Salvador Dali and his Abraham Lincoln

Salvador Dali remains to this day my favorite painter. At one point I wanted to study art history because of Cezanne’s bogusly beautiful evolution from the painting equivalent of skepticism to solidarity, but in the end Dali won out (and I now want to be in the CIA). Cezanne has this intricate beauty to his lines, and a bit of poetic fuzziness around things that should be clear, but for an insatiably questioning mind his work becomes dysfunctional in its perfection. In it, one has to analyze the mundane to find the brilliant. For Dali, one has to analyze the brilliant to find the mundane. Something about this role reversal, for indeed most birds hide their brilliant plumage under some dowdy feathers, really excites me. Dali and I also have a lot in common, since he too was an aficionado of Freud, water, Catholicism, Abraham Lincoln, Hitler’s maniacal rise to power, stating the obvious, strange moustaches, Spain, and true love.

My favorite painting of Dali’s conveniently explains itself: Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters becomes a Portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Every time I look at it, although nothing ever literally appears the same, I find something I empathize with or at least understand. I suppose he provides the optimism I want from life, the knowledge that even scrutinized from multiple angles, a situation can always present itself in a positive light.

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I will always be a Dali fan. Every time I search his name on the internet I am dismayed that the automatic fill-in results on my Google homepage range from “Salvation Army” to “salmon,” and leave me to type the rest of his name with a determined accuracy. (I know, I could just figure out how to change my Mozilla settings.) In art, and in life, I have found more satisfaction in and with Salvador Dali and his kind’s unfailing optimism, even if the upfront Cezanne-types are initially understandable and enjoyable. His work taught me that everything means something if it’s examined properly – and that something will usually (pleasantly) surprise you.

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