Surrealism 101: Everything You Need to Know
Surreal. Adj. Strange; not seeming real; like a dream Cambridge dictionary Do you know the origin of this word? It comes from one of the most...
Tommy Thiange 1 May 2023
min Read11 May 2023
It was very difficult to choose only 10 weird things about Salvador Dalí. He is widely known as one of the most eccentric artists in art history. And that manifests in his art, difficult character, and behavior. Dalí was enchanted by things like Freudian psychoanalysis, sadomasochism, fear of castration, or tarot reading… But here it is: 10 weird things about Salvador Dalí you should know!
Salvador Dalí’s mother gave birth to her first son in 1901, but the poor child died of gastroenteritis at 22 months old. His name was… Salvador. Nine months after the child’s death, the second Salvador was born and named after his late brother.
When Dalí was five, his parents took him to first Salvador’s grave and informed him of their belief that he was the reincarnation of his own dead brother. This had a huge psychological effect on the boy.
In August 1929, Dalí met the love of his life: Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, better known as Gala. Unfortunately, Gala was already married to the French Surrealist poet Paul Eluard (and also involved in a romance with Max Ernst). But it wasn’t a big problem for Dalí and, in the end, Gala married Dalí in 1934. Even though she was 10 years older than him, they would remain together until her death in 1982. Gala became Dalí’s muse and business manager, her financial shrewdness supported his extravagant lifestyle. She was also famous for directing Dalí’s business by checking it out in Tarot cards.
You can read the story of Dalí and Gala here.
Dalí loved himself.
Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dalí.
It sounds a little like Kanye West’s bragging, doesn’t it? Dalí was keen to express his polymath qualities during his chaotic appearance on What’s My Line?, answering yes to almost every question and professing to be an athlete, writer, and comic strip artist.
During the Nazis’ rise, most Surrealists were loudly anti-fascists and against Hitler. Dalí, on the other hand, began to paint him. These pieces include The Enigma of Hitler (above) and Hitler Masturbating. Once detailing that he “often dreamed of Hitler as a woman” and that the Nazi dictator “turned [him] on”. Dalí was kicked out of the Surrealist group for being a Nazi sympathizer, which he denied. Creepy!
Within the art community, Dalí was renowned for his love of making money. He was even called “Avida Dollars,” which is both an anagram of Salvador Dalí and a signifier of his greed. Dalí appeared in ads for Lanvin chocolates, brandy, and even Alka Seltzer – you can watch all of them here.
He designed the famous Chupa Chups lollipops logo and the 1969 logo for the Eurovision Song Contest. Nothing to add to this.
Gala encouraged Dalí into an open marriage, which saw the couple host regular orgies. Cher was once invited to his house (along with her ex-husband Sonny and Francis Ford Coppola) where an orgy was happening, and detailed that she picked up “a beautiful, painted rubber fish. Just fabulous. It has this little remote-control handset, and I’m playing with it, and the tail is going back and forth, and I’m thinking it’s a child’s toy. So I said to Salvador: ‘This is really funny.’ And he said: ‘It’s wonderful when you place it on your clitoris.’” What’s even more interesting is that, by all accounts, Dalí himself didn’t participate in orgies but instead preferred to watch.
For a long time, I experienced the misery of believing I was impotent
Dalí wrote in his autobiography. Like many boys his age, he turned to the pleasures of self-gratification. In Dalí’s case, however, masturbation became the primary—and perhaps even only—sexual activity he enjoyed throughout his life. In his autobiography, he claimed he kept up the practice well into adult life, often in front of a mirror. Masturbation, nevertheless, filled Dalí with fear because it was at the time believed to cause impotence, homosexuality, and insanity.
Dalí filled up a white Rolls Royce Phantom II with 500kg of cauliflowers and drove it from Spain to Paris in December 1955. The reasoning was, he later told an audience of 2,000, that “everything ends up in the cauliflower!” Three years later, he explained to American journalist Mike Wallace that he was attracted to their “logarithmic curve.”
Dalí had a lot of famous friends and hung out with Elvis Presley, John Lennon, David Bowie, Pablo Picasso, and even Sigmund Freud. But probably his weirdest acquaintance was rock legend Alice Cooper. He became fascinated by his stage show, which was partly inspired by Dalí’s work.
Dalí gave Cooper a plaster sculpture of his brain, crowned by a chocolate eclair with real ants running down the middle—and then asked Cooper to model for him. Cooper ended up doing so since he was wearing a $2 million diamond tiara provided by Dalí. At the end of it, Dalí had created an amazing revolving hologram of Cooper covered in diamonds and biting the head of a Venus de Milo statuette. He accomplished this by using lasers to capture a three-dimensional image.
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