"Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali." - Salvador Dali
In his review of Salvador Dali's first autobiography, George Orwell declared that "One ought to be able to hold in one's head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being." Whether or not one agrees with the famous author's assessment, Orwell captures the polarizing nature of Salvador Dali, and the extent to which his undeniable technical virtuosity often brushed against his penchant for provoking his audiences (not to mention provoking long-entrenched standards of "proper" taste). Dali, after all, was unafraid to eschew Renaissance perspective, thereby incorporating often graphic subject matter. In other words, if Dali stands as one of the canonical figures of modern art, this involved holding both a seminal role in the canon of cutting-edge art but also a tendency to challenge audiences, challenging the contours of "Art with a Capital A".
While Orwell may have separated Dali the master technician from Dali the person, it would be more accurate to acknowledge that the virtues of Dali's art cannot be dissociated from its provocative nature. Always a showman, Dali's very public persona was predicated on pushing the boundaries of artistic form, content, and professional identity. He was also not alone in this regard, and Dali's career cannot be separated entirely from important modern art movements, particularly surrealism.