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Digging up Dalí: what the spectacle of the artist’s exhumation reveals about us

A soothsayer has placed a paternity claim against the great surrealist, who has been exhumed for DNA tests. Would Dalí enjoy the spectacle? More importantly: do we?

By AN Devers  

Salvador Dalí photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1939. Photo: Library of Congress

It’s no secret that Salvador Dalí had a kink for death.

“Dead faces, skulls, corpses of animals occur fairly frequently in his pictures, and the ants which devoured the dying bat make countless reappearances. One photograph shows an exhumed corpse, far gone in decomposition. Another shows the dead donkeys putrefying on top of grand pianos which formed part of the Surrealist film, Le Chien Andalou.”

So writes George Orwell, with upturned nose, in…

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