This audiovisual series looks at Salvador Dalí's film, video and television production, as a cul
The connection between mass media and modern art was understood, during most of that decade, through a complex body of theories. These modes of thinking, which ranged from formalist critique to the most orthodox surrealism, reveal the presence of an inevitable dialectical tension. So, it is no surprise that Clement Greenberg would situate the survival of the avant-garde in its direct confrontation with the kitsch of film and illustration. Similarly, André Breton would conceive of the manifestations of popular culture in surrealism as a simple means by which to transcend everyday life and once again enchant the world with the marvellous. The definitions proposed by the theorists of the time, such as Siegfried Kracauer, present cinema as an entertainment factory, in which the seriality and division of labour, typical of the industrial assembly line, are put to the service of merchandise transformed into spectacle.
Unlike theses such as these, which in one way or another protagonized the decade, Dalí's achievement was to formulate his own conception of the mass media, and his ideas took concrete form in the series of audiovisual productions presented in this series. In contrast with the mechanical and standardised work described by Kracauer, Dalí conceived of the film industry as a machine for the collective production of desire, in which the spectacle is the sequenced version of the paranoiac-critical method and its delirious associations. The public and the masses urgently demand the illogical and tumultuous images of their own desires and their own dreams (…), in
After two collaborations with his friend at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid (Un Chien Andalou and L'Àge d'Or), Dalí's attraction to the subversive potential of Hollywood and mass culture, so liberating and spontaneous, prompted him to take part in film projects with Walt Disney (a genuine surrealist, along with Harpo Marx and Cecil B. DeMille, Dalí said of Disney) and Alfred Hitchcock. Dalí's originality lies in the fact that, unlike André Breton, he does not idealize or transcend this subculture, but rather promotes, somewhat like the surrealist dissident Georges Bataille, its low and degrading, anti-artistic nature. The artist conceived of himself as a Gargantua that executes and celebrates this collective manifestation of delirium.
So, although this new relationship between artist and spectacle led Breton to expel Dalí from the Surrealist movement - and rename him Avida Dollars - , the creator of The Great Masturbator did become the protagonist of numerous advertisements, documentaries, happenings and various actions undertaken by a generation of younger artists. In doing so, he not only revealed his ability to put forward a specific role of the artist within the mediatic world of post-war art, he also offered a solution, questionable or not, to another endless enigma, that of the relationship between modernity and the mass media.