Camembert to clocks: Dali's genius on show in Paris

Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:02pm EST
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By Vicky Buffery

PARIS (Reuters) - The broadest-ever retrospective of Salvador Dali, opening in Paris this week, seeks to move beyond the shameless self-promotion that the 20th century Surrealist was often derided for and stress his indelible influence on artists today.

Once dubbed "Avida Dollars" for his love of money, Dali is regarded by some as little more than a marketing product, his Spanish home an obligatory tourist stop, his trademark melting watches the inspiration for money-spinning souvenirs.

But a new show at the Pompidou Centre lays bare the extent of his creative genius, exploring how his experiments with painting, cinema, advertising and installations influenced movements from Pop Art to today's performance art.

The show, which runs from November 21 to March 25, is set to be a blockbuster of the Parisian art calendar. The last Dali retrospective at the Pompidou in 1979 remains the most visited exhibition in the museum's history.

"There's this vision we have of there being a good Dali, the Surrealist, and then the one who came after, who made money," said exhibition curator Jean-Michel Bouhours.

"We needed to go beyond this distinction between the good and the bad and show how the experimental Dali was extraordinarily important in the history of art and the artistic models that developed in the 60s and 70s."

The exhibition features some 200 works by the Spanish master, including the famous 1931 "The Persistence of Memory" with melting pocket watches, which Dali said was inspired by watching camembert cheese liquefying in the sun.

Also on show are dozens of works on paper, projects for stage and screen, photographs and films such as the 1929 "Un Chien Andalou", written with Spanish director Luis Bunuel.   Continued...

A visitor looks at a projection of a picture of Salvador Dali during a presentation of a new exhibition of his work at Moscow's Pushkin Museum September 2, 2011. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin