Salvador Dali

Meryle Secrest, Author Dutton Books $22.5 (307p) ISBN 978-0-525-24459-2
Dali bore a close physical resemblance to a brother who died in childhood; his parents' constant comparison of their two sons instilled in him feelings of worthlessness. To win the attention of grownups, he pulled stunts like leaping off a roof and rolling down stairs. He feared grasshoppers and portrayed his father as one in paintings. In its clinical matter-of-factness, this trivializing biography misses the rambunctious, subversive spirit of the surrealist painter's personality and art. We learn that Dali ate a ""very strong'' Camembert the night he painted the melting watches in his famous picture The Persistence of Memory, but does this really help us understand the painting, his imagination or his methods? Secrest (Being Bernard Berenson, Kenneth Clark draws on interviews with the artist's friends and relatives as well as archival research. Many personal revelations and much gossip spill out as the psychoanalytic connections between the man's pictures and his obsessions become clearer, but that is all this depressing biography accomplishes. Photos not seen by PW. (November 25)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1986
Release date: 12/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-525-48334-2
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