Dali a Renaissance Man? That’s an Understatement!

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By Paul Chimera

Salvador Dali Historian-Writer

 

The dictionary defines it as “a person with many talents or areas of knowledge.” Renaissance man. Nothing described Salvador Dali if not those two words. What an understatement! Dali pretty much did it all. It’s part of what defined him as a genius.

 

The irony is that Dali’s iconic, globally familiar “soft watches” – first popularized in his most universally recognized painting, The Persistence of Memory of 1931 – sort of type-cast Dali. Many people know of those unforgettable watches and clocks, but not much else. Leading them to falsely believe that’s pretty much all Dali did – in addition to creating an international spectacle of himself.

 

How wrong they are. That’s another understatement. Because Salvador Dali was indeed a 20th century Renaissance man, not unlike Leonardo Da Vinci in his time. A. Reynolds Morse – benefactor of the Dali Museum in Florida – called Dali the “Leonardo of our time.” I’d have to agree.

The arenas in which his creative genius made a lasting impact seem endless…

 

There are, first and foremost, the glorious paintings

 

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And Dali’s creative ideas resulted in many diverse prints (lithographs, etchings, etc.) . . .

 

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Dali’s drawings were superbly executed . . .

McBeith drawing an example of Dali's painstaking draftsmanship.

Macbeth drawing an example of Dali’s painstaking draftsmanship.

 

While sculpture wasn’t what Dali was best known for, he turned out some interesting work . . .

 

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Watercolor was a medium in which Dali truly excelled . . .

 

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Dali could assemble anything into a surrealist work of art . . .

 

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And he had interesting ideas in furniture design . . .

 

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Movie making and animation were also part of Dali’s creative repertoire . . .

 

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Movie set scene design, too . . .

 

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And theatre set design . . .

 

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Dali was also a prolific writer and an exceptionally gifted one . . .

 

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Book illustration was an arena Dali mastered wonderfully . . .

 

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And Salvador salivated over his positively insane cookbook . . .

 

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Yes, even opera benefited from the Dalinian touch . . .

 

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Dali demonstrated his facility at poetry in a book titled the same as one of his most ingenious paintings . . .

 

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He used photography in many ways, including a platform for his collaborative ideas with Philippe Halsman . . .

 

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Salvador Dali was the first major artist to harness the phenomenon of holography . . .

 

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And then there were his 1970s 3-D stereoscopic works . . .

 

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Dali’s impact was certainly felt in both print and broadcast advertising . . .

 

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The Catalan master did plenty of commercial design. He said most people work to get money. Dali explained he got money so he could work! Meaning the healthy commissions from his commercial work gave him the freedom to spend most of his time creating great art . . .

 

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Did you know Dali was also a costume designer . . .

 

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And he did lots of highly collectible magazine cover designs . . .

 

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The renaissance man from Spain’s Costa Brava made his mark on the world of fashion and jewelry . . .

 

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Dali even dabbled in newspaper journalism — well, sort of . . .

 

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And there was architecture on his resume as well . . .

 

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Even some early acting (of the silent type) . . .

 

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To say Dali did it all is, well, an understatement! (And, yes, I know some things were left out. There are only so many hours in the day!)

 

 

[Images used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes only]

 

 

 

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