When I was in Paris in 2011 I visited the Salvador Dali Museum, a collection of his lesser known works. The most striking thing about the museum was the repetitive use of his major ideas- melting clocks in other paintings and sculptures, Don Quixote in multiple iterations. Lots of mustache and lips stuff, including a lips couch.
No one would debate that Dali was an extraordinarily talented visionary, but I have to admit the constant recycling of concepts was disappointing. It’s a bit like in music where a musician has a hit and proceeds to make a carbon copy version of that hit. One would hope a creative genius would stretch their boundaries a bit with each new release. I though t about it and came to the conclusions that:
1. working artists need to produce whether they have new ideas or not
2. even geniuses have a limited number of ideas and a even smaller number of “hits”
3. the majority of people only want to see/ hear the “hits”
4. artists should produce a blend of what they want and what will be successful, because as humans they are obliged to keep their family fed and clothed, while meeting the demands of their creative impulses. Sometimes the latter includes new editions (melting clocks as sculptures), or refining of ideas by painting them over and over.
5. Artists are people and shouldn’t be elevated to pedestals. For every artist someone thinks is a genius lurks someone who has traced, or stolen an idea, or had a factory of subordinates doing his/ her work for them, or had money from family to buy adspace/ pay a promoter/ etc.
Today I am far less critical of Dali’s repetitive concepts. It’s a by-product of mixing art and commerce and human behavior.