View of “Salvador Dalí,” Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2005. Photo: Greydon Wood.

View of “Salvador Dalí,” Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2005. Photo: Greydon Wood.

Salvador Dalí

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Hail to the newborn Salvador Dalí, so often scorned by the last century! Now resurrected in a retrospective for his hundredth birthday (in 2004), he is making a vengeful comeback that will open eyes both old and young. It turns out that he is not only still alive and well (the crowds goggling each painting were testimony to his miracle working), but he is also emerging as a surprisingly unfamiliar master whose work has yet to be integrated into art history.

My credentials for this overview are venerable. It was in May 1939, just before my twelfth birthday, that I rushed to Flushing Meadow to see the New York World’s Fair as soon as it opened. There, on the outskirts of this utopian hymn to progress, I stumbled upon something that transfixed me: Dalí’s Dream of Venus Pavilion, a bizarre grotto of erotic enchantment, with its slimy array of coral and submarine creatures, from mermaids and an

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