Dali came to Montmartre to see the windmills and stayed to work on his Don Quixote engravings, he even ended up being crowned the emperor of Montmartre…typical Dali.
The museum has some of his iconic sculptures but it’s in his other works such as etchings,, sketches and water colours that the museum rounds out his body of work. In the face of his excesses, and let’s be honest here deeply crazy psyche, we tend to forget Dali the artist and how truly skilled he was. Or as George Orwell pointed out in an essay flaying Dali as a person and as a symbol of western decadence:
“He is also, to judge by the minuteness and the sureness of his drawings, a very hard worker. He is an exhibitionist and a careerist, but he is not a fraud. He has fifty times more talent than most of the people who would denounce his morals and jeer at his paintings. And these two sets of facts, taken together, raise a question which for lack of any basis of agreement seldom gets a real discussion…”
But amidst all of Dali’s showy nihilism you find this… Alice, Alice yes but a very adult Alice, with her hands and face turned to roses and swinging a braided rope leaping straight from the illustrations of Dali’s lithograph series Alice in Wonderland. My favourite Dali sculpture.
Space Elephant who appears in various guises throughout Dali’s works. Here with an obelisk (cheerfully stolen from Bernini), spindly legs and all.
A winged snail cruises along on the waves while an angel strides forward on it’s back.
And of course the ubiquitous Lobster Telephone, hello, hello? Mr Dali will take your call now…
And a surrealist piano… Well the sculpture is standing on a piano.
The Dali watch, the crown of the watch mechanism melts into a liquid crown for time itself, reclining on a budding tree stump and attended by an angel and a draped figure.
Dali’s work is always disturbing, but I do wonder sometimes whether it’s disturbing because it’s surrealist or is it disturbing because it is the work of a fractured psyche…