13 photographs, 67 illustrations
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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.
Roger Rothman is a professor of art history at Bucknell University.