Salvador Dalí has often been accused of being more interested in money than art. However, his work has never been seen as commercial and was never meant to be commercial either.
Dalí’s paintings have always been politically incorrect and often depicted taboo ideas in a very unique style. As such, and in spite of Dalí’s talent, nothing could have predicted the success of the artist, who preferred to take his chances and impose his style rather than giving into a safer and less shocking academic style.
André Breton, the leader of the Surrealist group in Paris, gave Dalí the nickname Avida Dollars (greedy for dollars), the anagram for Salvador Dalí - maybe out of jealousy. Dalí was often accused of being opportunist and greedy, but he never went the easy way or sold out in order to impose his style.
Many other scandals accompanied Salvador’s career until his death in 1989. Promotional hoaxes, extravagances, provocations, political scandals, etc. Dalí fostered the controversy during his entire life, thus cultivating the image of an absurd, delirious artist. Dalí did not only want his work to be artistic; he wanted his entire life to become an art and transformed his own person as a work of art. However, and while the personality of Dalí cannot be dissociated from his work, it is important to go beyond this image to reach the genius and truly understand the profundity and symbolism of his work.
In the end, was Salvador Dalí a genius? Certainly so, whether one appreciates his work or not. As we celebrate this year the memory of Dalí, it is necessary to leave aside the many clichés and prejudices that have tarnished his reputation and made us forget his real talent and the genius of his work. At a time when so many mediocre contemporary pseudo-artists are praised for being simply able to cover a canvas with pretty colours, denying Dalí the title of master is definitely one of the greatest absurdities.