For years art critics wrestling with this problem were forced to carve up his 70-year career into the “good” Surrealist years and the embarrassing “bad” decades — when the mustachioed eccentric was accused of megalomania, catering to dictators and selling out through his numerous TV stints.
In France in the late 1960s, Dali was more known as the face of a chocolate ad than as a painter.
But a landmark exhibit at Paris’ Pompidou Center — featuring more than 120 paintings including the melted clocks of his famed 1931 work “The Persistence of Memory” alongside film work and TV appearances — aims to rewrite the art history books. It shows how his mass-media period, shunned by critics, was in fact extremely influential and must be reconciled with his early work to fully understand the scope of his genius.
“The surrealists said that we shouldn’t like his ‘bad’ years... But we can no longer ignore their influence on art in the 50s, 60s and 70s,” said curator Jean-Michel Bouhours.