Fascinating comments by Dali on Classicism versus Post-War art

These words from Dali's autobiography "The Secret Life of Salvador Dali" were recently sent to me by a friend following a conversation we had about classicism and integration in art - I had to share.


"We were consumed over reproductions of Raphael. There one could find everything - everything that we surrealists have invented constituted in Raphael only a tiny fragment of his latent but conscious content of unsuspected, hidden and manifest things. But all this was so complete, so synthetic, so "one", that for this very reason he eludes our contemporaries. The analytical and mechanical short-sightedness of the Post-War period had in fact specialized in the thousand parts of which all "classic work" is composed, making of each part analyzed an end in itself which was erected as a banner to the exclusion of all the rest, and which was blasted forth like a cannon-shot.

War had transformed men into savages. Their sensibility had become degraded. One could see only things that were terribly enlarged and unbalanced. After a long diet of nitroglycerine, everything that did not explode went unperceived. The metaphysical melancholy inherent in perspective could be understood only in the pamphleteering schemata of Chirico, when in reality this same sentiment was present, among a thousand other things, in Perugino, Raphael or Piero della Francesca. And in these painters, among a thousand other things, there were also to be found the problems of composition raised by Cubism, etc., etc.; and from the point of view of sentiment - the sense of death, the sense of the libido materialized in each coloured fragment, the sense of the instantaneity of the moral "commonplace" - what could one invent that Vermeer of Delft had not already lived with an optical hyper-lucidity exceeding in objective poetry, in felt originality, the gigantic and metaphorical labour of all the poets combined! To be classic meant that there must be so much of "everything", and of everything so perfectly in place and hierarchically organized, that the infinite parts of the work would be all the less visible. Classicism thus meant integration, synthesis, cosmogony, faith, instead of fragmentation, experimentation, scepticism."