Salvador Dalí was the last of the great cultural outlaws, and probably the last genius to visit our cheap and gaudy planet. Look around you with an unbiased eye and, alas, you will see no painter of genius, and no novelist, poet, philosopher or composer who takes his or her place in that top tier without asking our permission. I think Dalí was the greatest painter of the 20th century – far more important than Picasso, who was a 19th-century painter most at home in his studio, with the familiar props of guitars, jugs of wine and stoical girlfriends who must have wondered what was going on in his self-enclosed mind. Picasso was driven around Cannes in his American car, but he seems to have seen nothing of the world on the far side of the windscreen.
With Dalí, we have the immediate sense that he not only saw the increasingly sinister world of the 1930s in all its lurid truth, but fully grasped the deranged unconscious forces that propelled Hitler and Stalin into the daylight. His paintings are like stills from an elegant newsreel filmed inside our heads, and we could reconstitute the whole of the last century from them, all its voyeurism, barbarism, scientific genius and self-disgust.
more from The Guardian here.