Joan Manuel Sevillano Campalans is director of the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation. Australia’s The Age describes his job on the eve of a National Gallery show opening in Melbourne:
The foundation’s mission is to promote the work of the surrealist painter who helped revolutionise art and cinema in the first half of the 20th century. One way it does this is through co-curating scholarly Dali shows in prestigious international museums, which recently have included MoMA in New York and London’s Tate Modern.
But much of the foundation’s work is also about undoing the crasser image of Dali as the performing seal of the art world. Dali’s incessant mugging for the cameras and eager commercialisation of his work once led Andre Breton, one of his early surrealist pals, to dismiss him as “Avida Dollars”— an anagram of his name.
“So what we have been trying at the foundation is to tell the world that these two aspects are complementary. We need to classify and investigate both of these with the same rigour,” says Campalans, who argues that a better way of viewing the vulgar Dali with Dali the accomplished artist is to see him as the world’s “first rock star”, whose pioneering self-promotion paved the way for Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.