“Dalí: The Early Years” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
June 29–September 18, 1994

Few reputations in twentieth-century art have soured more than that of the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (1904–89). The image of Dalí as a flamboyant huckster with a knack for publicity has all but supplanted his accomplishments as an artist. “Dalí: The Early Years” seeks to rectify this situation, albeit in a roundabout manner. As organized by Ana Beristain, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s work prior to 1931, the year of his signature painting The Persistence of Memory. It portrays Dalí as a serious student of early modernism and, in doing so, attempts to free him from the taint of (as the introductory wall label would have it) “commercial pandering.” This may be easier said than done. At the museum gift shop, gallery goers can purchase a working...


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