10 Things to Know About Salvador Dali

Dali

Salvador Dali has never ceased to fascinate us, and today, many years after his death, his name still resonates just as strongly as it did in his heyday. Salvador Dali, a leading figure in Surrealism, impressed people with his playfulness, unusual appearance and eccentric manners. He is mostly remembered for his artworks, and rightly so, but there are a few things that you should know about this genius!

1) He was a jack of all trades

The surreal outside of the Dali Theatre-Museum in Spain
The surreal outside of the Dali Theatre-Museum in Spain

A real Renaissance man, Dali took an interest in cinema. This curiosity led him to make several films such as “An Andalusian Dog” and “The Golden Age”. He also designed the set for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”. Furthermore, he dabbled in architecture, notably the spectacular Dali Theatre-Museum in Spain where Dali is now buried. He even participated in the world of fashion, creating a hat in the shape of a shoe, a pink belt with lips for the buckle and a white dress covered with a lobster print. And that’s not all! He also collaborated with some of the most iconic photographers of his time such as Man Ray and Phillippe Halsman. 

2) He worked with Walt Disney

A still from the short film "Destino"
A still from the short film “Destino”

Dali greatly admired  Walt Disney, who he called the “great American Surrealist”. In 1946, a mutual admiration led to a cartoon called “Destino” which was finally completed and released in 2003. The film featured a score by Mexican composer Armando Dominguez and runs for a total of 6 minutes. 

3) He collaborated with the commercial world

Dali and his Chupa Chups logo
Dali and his Chupa Chups logo

Salvador Dali designed the logo for Chupa Chups lollipops in 1969 and it is still used today. He advised the founder, who was also a friend, to include the logo on the lollipops in order to increase the consumer’s brand awareness. He also collaborated with Gap in a campaign that had the slogan ‘Salvador Dali wore khakis’, as well as creating four covers for Vogue

However, this was not always well received. Dali’s eccentricity and his commercial mind set often irritated members of the art world at the time. Thus André Breton, father of the surrealist movement, nicknamed him “Avida Dollars”, an anagram of the artist’s name. Dali was known for his love of money, a love he had no problem embracing.

4) He was certainly not loved by everyone

"The enigma of Hitler" by Dali
“The enigma of Hitler” by Dali

Salvador Dali, despite being a celebrated artist today, was not everyone’s cup of tea, even within the Surrealist movement. Many of the original Surrealists sympathized with Communism and therefore were against Dali’s support of Hitlerism and sought to exclude him for his fascist beliefs. 

The English writer, George Orwell, was also not a supporter of Dali as a person after reading Dali’s autobiography in which Dali recounts events from his youth. However, Orwell still credited him as a very skilled artist. 

5) He was close friends with Amanda Lear 

 
Salvador Dali and Amanda Lear
Salvador Dali and Amanda Lear

Amanda Lear, a French model and singer, took painting lessons from Dali during her youth and was one of his greatest muses. She was the protégé of the Dali-Gala couple, and spent summers with them in their home in Port Lligat. Paintings she posed for include: The Dream of Hypnos (1965) and Venus in Furs (1968). Their close friendship lasted more than fifteen years.

6) He developed a new style called “Nuclear Mysticism” 

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Time
The Disintegration of the Persistence of Time, 1952-1954

After the war, Dali developed a new style for his works that sought to represent science and Catholic imagery. This new style was born out of Dali’s hope that new scientific discoveries would unlock the unknown surrounding religion. The pieces he created during this time, whilst still being otherworldly and surreal, focused less on personal subjects and more on universal, scientific themes. 

7) He had an incredibly intense marriage

Dali and his wife, Gala
Dali and his wife, Gala

He met his lifelong partner Gala, who was Dali’s mistress and then wife, when she was still married to Paul Eluard, a famous French Surrealist poet. It was with Paul, that she visited Dali in his home in Figueras (Spain). The pair fell in love immediately and got married three years later.The Dali-Gala coupling soon became one of the most legendary couples of the world of art.  Gala acted as Dali’s other half in every sense of the word, so much so, he signed paintings with both of their names as he said she was his constant inspiration. After Gala’s death in 1982, Dali broke the Spanish law that banned people from moving corpses without necessary permission by driving with her body back to their home in Port Lligat. 

8) He believed he was the reincarnation of his brother

Portrait of my dead brother, 1963
Portrait of my dead brother, 1963

Having died just 9 months before Dali’s birth, he believed that he was a true reincarnation of his past brother. This is understandable as, aged 5, Dali’s parents took him to his brother’s grave and told him just that! Further confirmation came from the fact that they shared the same name. Later in Dali’s career he went on to paint his deceased brother in Portrait of my Dead Brother (1963). 

9) He was inspired by Sigmund Freud

Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937)
Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937

In the 1920s, Dali read The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud. This enlightenment acted as inspiration throughout Dali’s career. In fact Dali had what can only be described as an obsession with Freud, as he describes in his autobiography dreams of imagined conversations between the two of them.   When he finally met Freud in 1938, he took his painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus with him. 

10) His methods of accessing the surreal were often unconventional 

Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938
Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938

To be able to come up with surreal landscapes and images, Dali believed he has to access his subconscious. To do this, he forced himself to enter a state of delirium. A way of achieving this was to fix his gaze on one object in order to see different images in and around it. This was called the ‘paranoiac-critical method’. Another technique was to keep himself in a continuous state of being neither asleep nor awake. He would sit with a bowl and a spoon and whenever he fell asleep the noise from the spoon falling into the bowl would wake him. 

Salvador Dali was truly one of a kind. Constantly evolving and being inspired by new discoveries throughout his life, he relentlessly pushed the boundaries of art. His dreamy, often unnerving, creations have stood the test of time and are just as fascinating today as when he first created them!