Dali & I: The Surreal Story
By Lauryssens, Stan
Dali & I by Stan Lauryssens
My Review: After reading certain chapters of this book I felt that I needed to wash my hands, my eyes and my mind. The explicit descriptions of perversion supposedly engaged in by Dali, with and without his wife Gala, add nothing to the story of Art except titillation (for some.) But perversion can manifest itself in a variety of areas beyond the physical.
Some areas of Surrealism questioned what Art really was. The Duchamp urinal comes to mind. The use of a factory of artists engaged in making artworks attributed to the Master artist has a long history with Verrocchio, Rubins and Andy Warhol. This author describes widespread fraud throughout the art world from the independent sellers to the galleries; auction houses and traces the web of deceit right to the doorstep of Dali himself.
Reading that the art world is riddled with fraud did not surprise me. What disappointed me was the assertion that Dali’s involvement in this wasn’t out of an intellectual premise of Surrealism but for the money, just like the rest of the thieves.
This enlightening and entertaining book offers a glimpse into the rarified atmosphere of the booming contemporary art world as it stood in the years 2004-07. Sarah Thornton, with her ethnographic perspective on seven diverse segments of this expensive and exclusive scene delivers a peek into a world which few artists and lovers of art will ever gain access.
Offering glimpses into the marketing and selling of art through the dealers and auction houses, the trade shows and publications, Thornton delivers a thoroughly researched and lively written peek behind the so called curtain of art commerce. With the dramatic economic downturn the world experienced in 2008 this may be a prescient view of a market at its climax.
The artists themselves are represented at they hone their craft at a legendary California critique session, we tag along with short listed artists awaiting news of the winner of a prize which will catapult the prices of their art into the stratosphere. We then travel with an artist at the top of his game on a tour of the international studios where his work is created by and for him.
Interestingly, the artwork itself is but a minor character in this impressive theatrical event of Seven Days in the Art World. The artists pour ideas into and onto the market, the press and critics push the market with fantabulous facts and figures and the dealers, auction houses and collectors play the market. One is reminded of the Wizard behind the green curtain in the land of Oz pumping away while trying to keep the illusion real.
Kudos to Sarah Thornton for pulling back the curtain on this endangered microcosmic world in such an accessible and informative style.