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Why has this not been possible before?

“A lot has changed. It’s 2012 and Dali is dead. In the last retrospective in 1979, he was still alive, it was too soon,” said Pompidou Center Director Alfred Pacquement. “We are for the first time in the realm of history. The first time we can clearly see beginning to end.”

Dali once said: “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven, I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.”

The true scope of his bombastic ambition _ both famed artist and annoying showoff _ can be seen until March 25.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP