Tiny Surrealism

Tiny Surrealism

Salvador Dalí and the Aesthetics of the Small

Roger Rothman

280 pages
13 photographs, 67 illustrations


September 2015


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Though one of the most popular artists of the twentieth century, Salvador Dalí is typically seen as peripheral to the dominant practices of modernist painting. Roger Rothman’s Tiny Surrealism argues that this marginal position is itself a coherent response to modernism. It demonstrates how Dalí’s practice was organized around the logic of the inconsequential by focusing on Dalí’s identification with things that are literally tiny (ants, sewing needles, breadcrumbs, blackheads, etc.) as well as those that are metaphorically small (the trivial, the weak, the superficial, and the anachronistic). In addition to addressing the imagery of Dalí’s paintings, Tiny Surrealism demonstrates that the logic of the small was a fundamental factor in Dalí’s adherence to the techniques of miniaturist illusionism. Long derided as antimodernist and kitsch, Rothman demonstrates that Dalí’s style was itself a strategy of the small aimed at subverting the dominant values of modern painting.

Tiny Surrealism does not only examine Dalí’s pictorial work; it also probes the artist’s many public pronouncements and private correspondences. By attending to the peculiarities of Dalí’s technique and examining overlooked aspects of his writings, Tiny Surrealism is the first study to detail his deliberate subversion of modernist orthodoxies.

Author Bio

Roger Rothman is a professor of art history at Bucknell University.


“Written in a lucid and readable style appropriate even for the novice student of surrealism, Tiny Surrealism excavates a different side to Dalí: that of the empathetic, stunningly perspicacious, and vulnerable man, who is always favoring the underdog. . . . Tiny Surrealism has great potential to serve as an introduction to Dalí’s complex oeuvre.”—Abigail Susik, Modernism/Modernity

"Tiny Surrealism is a solid, nuanced piece of scholarly inquiry. . . . Rothman offers a fresher perspective and a richer vocabulary to rethink Dalí's place in the surrealist universe. Tiny Surrealism successfully rescues Dalí from such unfair critical isolation and sheds overdue light on the intricacies of such a multidimensional artist."—Pablo Baler, Hispania

"Undergraduates and general audiences will find distinct new approaches to the well-known but inadequately analyzed artist Dalí. Rothman's book opens pathways to insert Dalí into the scholarly discourses surrounding modern art."—Choice

“Rothman’s book is a creative, readable, and invigorating reevaluation of the early career of Salvador Dalí, one of the most recognizable figures in twentieth century art and intellectual history, yet also one of the most vexing and misunderstood. . . . Rothman’s discussions of Dalí’s texts and paintings are consistently enlightening and provocative, and the book promises to make a substantive impact in the fields of modernism and surrealism.”—Jonathan Eburne, author of Surrealism and the Art of Crime

“The strength of this study—in fact, its undeniable contribution to our knowledge of Dalí—lies in its very detailed and comprehensive exposition—indeed the close and quite perceptive analysis of the ‘little things,’ as they emerge in Dalí’s early works. . . . Tiny Surrealism is a valuable contribution to a more comprehensive understanding of Dalí’s art and aesthetics.”—Haim Finkelstein, author of Salvador Dalí's Art and Writing, 1927–1942

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
Introduction: Dalí's Tininess 
1. Little Things 
2. Paranoia 
3. Parasitism 
4. Superficiality 
5. Submission 
6. Anachronism 
Afterword: Disintegration 

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