The Surreal Egotist

“Having proclaimed himself a genius while in his 20’s, Salvador Dalí went on to promote this notion with such relentless conviction that the egotist eventually overshadowed the artist. By the time he died in 1989, leaving hundreds of signed sheets of paper to spawn a fake Dalí industry, many in the art world had turned against him.

Yet Dalí never lost his popular appeal. Expelled from the Surrealist movement in 1939, he remained the best known Surrealist. And even after Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art had supplanted Surrealism, a major Dalí retrospective in Paris in 1979 still drew 800,000 visitors. Today, among 20th-century artists, his renown is probably exceeded only by Picasso’s.

Unsurprisingly, then, the centenary of his birth has spawned Dalí exhibitions across his native Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain, Europe and the United States. Of these, two traveling blockbusters stand out. Supported by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, they are trying to jump-start a reassessment of his oeuvre.

‘Dalí and Mass Culture,’ which tracks his impact on today’s visual language, was shown in Barcelona this spring and Madrid this summer and will be at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., from Oct. 1 through Jan. 30. And ‘Dalí,’ which dwells on his paintings, is at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice through Jan. 16 and will be presented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from Feb. 16 through May 15.”

More by Alan Riding here in the New York Times.