The Most Complete Collection of Salvador Dalí’s Paintings Published in a Beautiful New Book by Taschen: Includes Never-Seen-Before Works

Sal­vador Dali was that rare avant-garde artist whose work earned the respect of near­ly every­one, even those who hat­ed him per­son­al­ly. George Orwell called Dali a “dis­gust­ing human being,” but added “Dali is a draughts­man of very excep­tion­al gifts…. He has fifty times more tal­ent than most of the peo­ple who would denounce his morals and jeer at his paint­ings.”

Walt Dis­ney was very keen to work with Dali. And Dali’s own per­son­al hero and intel­lec­tu­al father fig­ure, Sig­mund Freud—no lover of mod­ern art—found the artist’s “unde­ni­able tech­ni­cal mas­tery” so com­pelling that he rethought his long­stand­ing neg­a­tive opin­ion of Sur­re­al­ism.

It’s hard to imag­ine that Orwell, Dis­ney, and Freud would agree on much else, but when it came to Dali, all three saw what is uni­ver­sal­ly appar­ent: as an artist, he was “not a fraud,” as Orwell grudg­ing­ly admit­ted.

It is also clear that Dali was a “very hard work­er.” For all the time he spent in absolute­ly shame­less self-promotion—a full career’s worth of activ­i­ty for many a cur­rent celebrity—Dali still found the time to leave behind hun­dreds of high­ly accom­plished can­vas­es, draw­ings, pho­tographs, films, mul­ti­me­dia projects, and more. A trip to the Dali Muse­um in Tam­pa, Flori­da can be a dis­ori­ent­ing expe­ri­ence.

Despite the already siz­able body of work we might have seen on view or repro­duced, how­ev­er, the edi­tors of Taschen’s newest, updat­ed edi­tion of Dali: The Paint­ings have “locat­ed paint­ed works by the mas­ter that had been inac­ces­si­ble for years,” as the influ­en­tial arts pub­lish­er notes, “so many, in fact, that almost half the fea­tured illus­tra­tions appear in pub­lic for the first time.” In addi­tion to the “opu­lent” pre­sen­ta­tion of the art­work, the book (which expands on a first edi­tion pub­lished last year) also “con­tex­tu­al­izes Dali’s oeu­vre and its mean­ings by exam­in­ing con­tem­po­rary doc­u­ments, from writ­ings and draw­ings to mate­r­i­al from oth­er facets of his work, includ­ing bal­let, cin­e­ma, fash­ion, adver­tis­ing, and objets d’art.”

The first sec­tion of the book reveals how Dali found his own style by mas­ter­ing every­one else’s. He “deployed all the isms… with play­ful mas­tery” and “would bor­row from pre­vail­ing trends before ridi­cul­ing and aban­don­ing them.” Dali want­ed us to know that he could have paint­ed any­thing he want­ed, throw­ing into even high­er relief the con­found­ing dream log­ic of his cho­sen sub­jects. Per­haps Dali him­self made it impossible—as Orwell had want­ed to do—to sep­a­rate Dali the per­son from the tech­ni­cal achieve­ments of his art.

As the artist him­self saw things, his life and work were all wrapped up togeth­er in a sin­gu­lar per­for­mance. At the age of sev­en, he wrote, he had decid­ed he want­ed to be Napoleon. “Since then,” Dali mock-humbly con­fessed, “my ambi­tion has steadi­ly grown, and my mega­lo­ma­nia with it. Now I want only to be Sal­vador Dali, I have no greater wish.” A great part of Dali’s mag­net­ism, of course, is due to what he calls his “mega­lo­ma­nia,” or rather to his uncom­pro­mis­ing life’s work of becom­ing ful­ly, com­plete­ly, him­self.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When Sal­vador Dali Met Sig­mund Freud, and Changed Freud’s Mind About Sur­re­al­ism (1938)

Sal­vador Dalí’s Tarot Cards Get Re-Issued: The Occult Meets Sur­re­al­ism in a Clas­sic Tarot Card Deck

Sal­vador Dalí & Walt Disney’s Short Ani­mat­ed Film, Des­ti­no, Set to the Music of Pink Floyd

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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