I have Dali's paintings of Jesus at The Last Supper and Jesus on the Cross hanging in my living room where I make sure I see them every single day. There have never been two better statements of both the effect of Jesus on our lives as well as the surrealistic idea of Jesus in toto. Dali had a real good idea about what's going on here. I'm sorry he's no longer with us.

Did you see him on the Tonight Show many years ago where he unveiled his latest work, Smoke? It consisted of a veil which, when uncovered, released a bunch of smoke (duh). Dali just stood there in amazed wonder as the smoke floated away. Johnny Carson was, for once, speechless.

A genius, without question, even though Robert Hughes comments in the Guardian Unlimited upon the 100th Anniversary of Dali's birth, "...he held court at the St Regis in New York, where he favoured new acquaintances with foul gusts of the worst human breath I have ever smelt." Hughes goes on to discuss Dali's unseemly love of money and his "harpy" of a wife, Gala. But he winds up saying that Dali's two most important works are his "Paranoiac-Astral Image" (1934) and "Soft Construction with Boiled Beans - Premonition of Civil War" (1936). Those are two very different studies, and are both quite a departure from the Biblical images I enjoy.

Salvador Dalí had quite a cracked out youth. Many of the things that he experienced during his childhood had a profound effect on his paintings.

Before he was born, his mom gave birth to another child who she ended up naming Salvador Dalí. This Dalí did not live for long. Only nine months after the first Salvador Dalí's death, the next Salvador Dalí was born.

Dalí's parents treated him as if he were a reincarnation of his brother. Dalí felt as if he had to live for both himself and his brother. This caused Dalí to have very disturbing mental images, which eventually showed up in his paintings.

Dalí did not fit in at school. He was the butt of many jokes. The teasing became so extreme that other children would throw bugs at him. This teasing caused one of the most obvious motifs in Dalí's paintings. He paints bugs, especially grasshoppers, into many of his paintings.

Although the effects of the events below are not as profound in Dalí's paintings, I would have to imagine that they affected him somehow.

  • Dalí's mother used to sleep with him to get away from his sometimes abusive father. When Dalí was assured that his mom was asleep, he would take off all of his clothes and go back into bed.
  • To make his dad angry, Dalí used to poop and pee randomly throughout the house.
  • Dalí would fall down stairs at school randomly just to see the look on peoples' faces.
And that is only a mere glimpse into the "abnormal" life of Dalí.

Dali's soft paintings, with their melting faces and objects held up with crutches, have recently been linked to his impotence.
This in no way diminishes his brilliance.

Some of Dali's less surreal works are his illustrations for the Jerusalem Bible.

Recently I saw a film made about and by Dali. Narrated by Orson Welles, a good friend of the artist, it was a surreal, choppy documentary. Like much of the art of its time, it now comes across as very dated. However, the image that sticks with me was
A boulder on the beach near Dali's house the exact shape of the jellyfishlike form from The Persistence of Memory. Even surrealists, it seems, follow the dictum to "node/write/paint what you know"...

One more aspect of his school life, for those of us who can't get enough. His teacher would take schoolchildren from his class and invite them into the backroom of the class. No one knows exactly what he did to them; it might have been different for each one. However, when he invited Salvador into the room, he showed him a frog on which were tied strings, like a puppet. He then made the frog dance; Dali had nightmares for weeks.

Another note - the moustache that everyone seems to enjoy debating over was, according to Dali, the way he recieved messages from aliens from outerspace. A sort of organic antennae, if you will.

Before his dive into Surrealism, Dali studied other art forms like Cubism and Futurism, before perfecting his "paranoiac-critical" (self described) form of interpretation with which he painted. Aside from his well-known famous works he also did a great deal of sketching and watercolors from mythology, tarot cards and works of classic authors like Ovid and Dante. Was kicked out of the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid where he studied for a "lack of discipline".

Probably offended quite a few people with works like his "Hitler Masturbating", and "Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized By Her Own Chastity".

"In order to acquire a growing and lasting respect in society, it is a good thing, if you possess great talent, to give, early in your youth, a very hard kick to the right shin of the society that you love. After that, be a snob. " (Salvador Dali)

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was reportedly a 'calculated eccentric' 1 . He apparently spent time planning his reputation to suit the stereotypical image of the crazed, inspired artistic genius marching to the beat of another tin whistle in an effort to impress the people around him. Of course, exactly how much of Dali's eccentricity was natural and how much was planned is open to conjecture: the debate of nature versus nurture rears its controversial head. The write-ups by Malicious Kitten and Or something point to severe trauma in the earlier years of Dali's life, which may or may not have contributed to his "wacky artist" image in later life. On the other hand, perhaps these wacky ideologies weren't orchestrated at all; perhaps Dali was merely subverting the natural paradigm to enhance his own creativity.

  • Dali used unusual and strange actions to seduce and impress his girlfriend Gala. He used to shave his armpits until they bled, then wore a perfume made of cow dung and fish glue to smell different to those around him.
  • There is a common story that Dali ate copious amounts of ripe camembert cheese before he went to bed. The tale says that he believed the cheese gave him crazy and vivid dreams which he used to fuel his creative artworks. Who needs drugs when you have dairy?
  • Dali had several stories on the reasoning behind his famous bristling moustache. At first he compared it to an insect antenna, feeling around and tasting the air, but that image soon gave way to a modern idea. "My moustache is my radar," he announced, "It pulls ideas out of space. Great painters need a luxuriant moustache like mine. The points have to be just under the eyes to get the right perspective." Even later Dali stated that the waxed points of his moustache were used to perforate dollar bills.
  • Dali's pet ocelot often went with the artist wherever he went. Once at a New York restaurant Dali tied the ocelot to the table leg, and completely surprised an upper class society- lady. He told her that the ocelet was only a cat, painted with an op-art design. She preferred to believe the ocelot was fake but Dali was apparently pleased with the conversation.
  • In 1936 Dali wore a skirt to the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition. This was, of course, considered quite strange back in the day.

1 from The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics, by Karl Shaw

Salvador' Dali's art was typically surrealist. This is implied by its depiction of dream-like states, with confused foregrounds and symbolism, thought to have been spurred by the era's recent delve into the uncoscious mind, with writings from men like Freud sparking up artists' imaginations.

The attempt to show glimpses of the psyche is clear in Dali's art - tortured, weird and often remarkably creative, his style is somewhat reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch, inolving outlandish morphing figures, monsters and lonely landscapes.

Certain icons repeat themselves frequently in Dali's art, One such is the image of an elephant with tapered, impoossibly long legs. Another is the icon of the clock, many times depicted in what Dali referred to as a 'soft' state, referring to the melted appearance of these clocks. This recurring theme of 'softness' and 'hardness' was a prominent feature in Dali's art. he liked to depict himself in a soft manner - where as paintings of his wife, whom he says kept him from insanity, were always drawn as 'hard'. Mae west apparently fascinated this master for a while, because he featured her in a painting, as well as designing a sofa in the shape of her lips.

Dali liked to put 'crutches' into many of his paintings, making them support things. the idea for these weird instruments came to him, Dali said, when once as a child he'd watched a field worker leaning over in a pasture, and saw her breasts sag and visualised himself putting a crutch beneath those breast.

Incidentally, since so much fuss was made in the other nodes on Dali about his moustache, it might be intersting to point out that the waxed, pointed facial hair bears a striking resemblence to the crutch shape that Dali so liked to paint.

The image of drawers is also frequent - often Dali would display a figure of a woman, with drawers emerging from her body. This also recurs in his sculpture - for Dali was a sculptor too, and had many impressive works containing all of his above mentioned favourite themes.

Nudity and sexual imagery, reminiscent of Freud, are consistent in Dali's art. huge penile shapes and female forms are typical - he used to call himself 'totally impotent', however this is no sure truth, because together with the fearful, febrile sexual paintings one also finds paintings that seem to suggest quite the opposite (example, The invisible Harp).

Finally, anyone can say anyone they want about Dali, about his supposed madness or commercial eccentricity. He has turned into somewhat of an 'Oscar Wilde', with all sorts of quotes and weird traits attributed to him that are doubtfully true. The most amusing one I heard about him is him being incontinent, and often shitting himself. I think one can say little about his mind except that it must have been brilliant, to produce works of such outstanding originality.

Here is a slightly surreal potable created in honor of Mr. Dali.


Mix with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg. Optionally garnish with a single button of Psilocybe cubensis or a single polished fake glass eye. Serve well chilled.

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