Art: Salvadore Dali,The Embarrassing Genius

Behind the kitsch, Salvador Dali wrung poetry from neurosis

With some artists, death is only a ratification of decay: it releases them from the humiliations of their late careers. So it was with Salvador Dali, who when he died last week at 84 was perhaps the archetype of that 20th century phenomenon, the Embarrassing Genius. He was the first modern artist to exploit fully the mechanism of publicity. He appropriated the idea of the artist as demonic obsessive. He dealt with the question Why should your fantasies matter? by insisting that he was such an extraterrestrial creature, so tuned to the zeitgeist through the trembling antennas of his waxed mustache,...

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