Salvador Dali Blog

Dali fails to find a darling…buyer that is

Feb 15 2012 09:12PM | by Staff Editor

If an afterlife existed (we’re not ones to wax lyrical about metaphysical topics here) and Salvador Dali was gazing down at the Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art auction at the start of February, what would he have thought? For one, his star painting, Oasis (1946), failed to find a buyer. The painting wasn’t astronomically estimated either, with its highest range at 6 million pounds, so would he have felt slighted, or just sad that someone failed to acknowledge his genius? Let’s take a quick look at exactly what Oasis is all about. The Dali painting is, as expected, a Surrealist vision of Venus and Apollo silhouetted against a desert landscape. As the artist himself noted of his work: “The visible lovers. At the approach to the oasis, Apollo and Venus materialise in empty space.  By grace of the desert flower, they rise into view from the aridity of the rock”. It was painted at the height of his powers in New York City, where he lived during the tumultuous years during and after World War II. In fact, the Dali painting holds a significant place in his oeuvre for spiritual reasons as well. As Dali is quoted as saying in... Read more

Night In A Surrealist Forest

Jan 22 2012 10:07PM | by Staff Editor

Back in November of 2011, Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic was the artistic director for a controversial gala dinner at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The guests for the black tie event were politicians, heirs, celebrities, moguls and entrepreneurs who had paid anything from $2,500 to $10,000 for a ticket to the November 12th fundraiser. So what was controversial? Well, ‘the mother of performance art’ arranged for 85 nude performers to serve as rotating human centrepieces at each of the tables, with each guest asked to don a white lab coat before they sat at the table. According to one MoCA trustee and collector, he locked eyes with his table’s centrepiece for more than 30 minutes, saying, “We actually locked eyes for 35 minutes straight and had this non-verbal conversation that was really meaningful. It was incredible. He was staring at me as Deborah Harry (of Blondie fame) was performing, I felt so honoured.” Not all the guests seem to have enjoyed being stared at by a naked person on their table whilst eating their dinner, the white lab coats made it difficult to separate guests and waiters and there have since been complaints from the performance... Read more

Dalí And Disintegration

Jan 10 2012 05:15PM | by Staff Editor

Just over 21 years after he had completed his groundbreaking oil painting and Surrealist masterpiece The Persistence Of Memory, Salvador Dalí painted a lesser-known recreation of the work called The Disintegration Of The Persistence Of Memory. The oil painting was created between 1952 and 1954 and was originally titled The Chromosome Of A Highly-Coloured Fish’s Eye Starting The Harmonious Disintegration Of The Persistence Of Memory when it first went on display at the Carstairs Gallery in New York, before being shortened to its current name. The original work, The Persistence Of Memory, was created in 1931 and is one of the most recognisable and most frequently referenced paintings in Dalí’s oeuvre. Dalí was inspired to create the painting after watching a block of Camembert cheese melt on his kitchen table whilst observing the slow passage of time – the melting pocket watches epitomised his theories of ‘softness’ and ‘hardness’ in art which was central to his creative thinking at the time, and the work is filled with often debated symbolism. While some have suggested that the work is a Surrealist meditation on the cosmos, Dalí himself refuted this and his scientific phase and obsession with the work of Albert Einstein... Read more

Dalí, Vermeer And Rhinoceros Horns

Dec 27 2011 01:56PM | by Staff Editor

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí believed that there was a special kinship between him and Dutch Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer. The fact that Dalí had been born in 1904, more than 250 years after Vermeer had first entered the world, didn’t seem to matter to him to him. The fact that Vermeer’s oeuvre is characterised by exquisite yet often sombre interior scenes of Dutch middle class life in the 17th Century, seemingly in stark contrast to the Surrealist creations that Dalí was bringing forth in the 20th Century, didn’t seem to alter Dalí’s view point either. Both Vermeer as a character and Vermeer’s artistic creations were referenced in a number of Dalí’s oil paintings over the course of his career, and by 1950s Dalí had become convinced that he and Vermeer had shared a number artistic dispositions including, most surreally of all, the belief that Vermeer had discovered, just like Dalí, the truth that the rhinoceros horn was the clearest and finest example of a logarithmic spiral in all of nature. In fact Dalí firmly believed that Vermeer’s 1669 oil painting The Lacemaker was, in terms of its geometrics and morphology, entirely composed of rhinoceros horn shapes. It was part... Read more

Dalí Involved In Cover Up

Dec 25 2011 09:39PM | by Staff Editor

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí, or rather one of his artworks, has recently been involved in an elaborate cover up at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada. Don’t worry, nothing sinister is going on - the ‘cover up’ was in fact part of an event to mark World AIDS Day back on December 1st, but more on that in a second. The Dalí oil painting at the heart of the matter is his 1957 masterpiece Santiago El Grande. The work, along with paintings by J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, was bequeathed to Canadian gallery in 1958 by British-Canadian press baron Max Aitken, otherwise known as Lord Beaverbrook. Thanks to the gallery’s generous benefactor, who created the institution as a gift to the region where he spent his childhood, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery boasts an incredible collection of works given its size and small town location outside of ‘traditional art areas’. Dalí’s Santiago El Grande is an epic oil painting that explores themes of Catholicism and nuclear physics, and is filled with allusions and symbolism. The work depicts the Apostle St. James riding a magnificent steed that is rising from the sea towards the... Read more

A further look at Surrealism

Nov 30 2011 06:37PM | by Staff Editor

Surrealism was a wide cultural movement that started in the early 1920s and encompassed all aspects of the arts, from writing to poetry, film and of course, paintings. Salvador Dali was one of its most well known practitioners, but he certainly wasn’t the first: the founders of the Surrealist oil painting side of things were artists such as the Frenchman André Masson (1896–1987), German Max Ernst (1891–1976), American Man Ray (1890–1976), Spaniard Joan Miró (1893–1983), Belgian artist René Magritte (1898–1967) and Dali at a later stage. In this blog post we’d like to examine the early stages of Surrealism and what about it entranced Dali and influenced his paintings. Surrealist works, written or painted, often share similar properties. Generally they were, and still considered by many to be, unconventional in nature with an element of shock, unanticipated juxtapositions and non-sequiturs. It is important to note that unlike today’s cynical celebrity culture of shocking for the sake of ratings and dollars, the Surrealist artists were a serious lot – many had backgrounds in philosophy and psychiatry and considered what they did of critical important to the spiritual state of man. In many ways, this seriousness was what led many Surrealists to... Read more

Dali paintings, watches, sauces and courses

Nov 20 2011 11:43AM | by Staff Editor

We’re sure if Dali were alive today he would treasure the internet above all other technological advancements. The ease of information, the ability to disseminate news and the wide acceptance of quirks and the strange would appeal to the self-proclaimed genius and agent provocateur. As you should be able to see on this blog, one such invention is the Dali watch, complete with rotating moustaches as the hour and minute hands, along with an ant as the constantly ticking second hand. The website claims a Japanese quartz movement with a tongue-in-cheek one year guarantee against melting tree branches - brilliant, we say. The only improvement that could be made was that the watch be made in Dali’s hometown of Spain… but with globalisation, a consumer would have to be content with Japan or China. For our Dali fans and readers in the Middle East interested in Dali paintings and other artworks, there’s no better location to visit than the Opera Gallery in Dubai this month. The gallery is hosting the largest ever Dali exhibition in the region’s history, entitled Treasures of Dali. Visitors will be able to see oil paintings featuring the famous melting clocks, as well as sculptures and... Read more

Hidden Faces – Dali artwork in font form

Oct 30 2011 10:42AM | by Staff Editor

According to Dali he had: “14 implacable hours a day” to work on this novel… “because I have time to do everything I want to do…because contemporary history offers a unique framework for a novel dealing with the development and the conflicts of great human passions… and because if I had not written it another would have done it . . . and badly”. The New York Times review of Dali’s 1944 novel, his one and only, was headlined “It’s Boring, But Is It Art?” Yes, a good question indeed from the self proclaimed genius and king of surrealist art. Salvador Dali produced thousands of oil paintings, drawings, sculptures and even telephones and couches – but his foray into fiction, or perhaps semi-fiction, resulted in one book, Hidden Faces. Based on the artist’s real life experiences, Dali’s novel follows the lives of a group of aristocrats as they trapeze across Europe living a life of luxury, decadence and extravagance that epitomised upper class life in the 1930s. But does it pose any value to a scholar of Dali who seeks insights into his oil paintings? If we consider any novel or written work a summation of an artist’s mind, then... Read more

Dali and his Accommodations of Desire

Oct 18 2011 09:34AM | by Staff Editor

“I dedicate this novel to Gala, who was constantly by my side while I was writing it, who was the good fairy of my equilibrium, who banished the salamanders of my doubts and strengthened the lions of certainties...” – Dalí on his novel, Hidden Faces Try to summarise the notion of “desire” in a single sentence. To want something would be the basic idea. How about desiring a woman who is someone else’s wife… now you get the feel for something more complex. For Spanish artist Salvador Dalí, the desire for a certain Gala was driving him mad, and the famous Surrealist needed a reprieve. He turned to his palette and canvas, with the subsequent work admired by the public and critics alike: The Accommodation of Desire. With his usual flamboyance and raw talent, Dali produced an image that not only exemplifies Surrealist beliefs of the unconscious and dreams, but also the very concept and feeling of desire itself. The Accommodations of Desire was painted in the summer of 1929, inspired by his sexual anxieties over Gala, an older woman and wife of his friend, the Surrealist poet Paul Eluard. Dali returned from a walk alone with Gala and it... Read more

Dali as a visionary for Israel?

Oct 02 2011 11:35AM | by Staff Editor

Aliyah is a precept of Zionist thought that refers to the immigration, and thus return, of Jews to the Land of Israel. This notion is thousands of years old: the return to the Holy Land has been an aspiration since the Babylonian exile, but in modern times the notion has experienced a resurgence, especially since the events of World War II. What does this all have to do with Dali paintings though? While Dali is best known for intensive symbolism and the ability to fuse mechanical objects with communicative receptivity, a series of prints at the latest exhibition at the Brown-RISD Hillel Gallery, U.S.A points to a side of the Spanish artist rarely discussed or looked at. The exhibition now on at the Brown-RISD Hillel Gallery is titled Aliyah: The Rebirth of Israel. The 25 pieces of mixed media artwork contained in the exhibition were commissioned in 1967 and auctioned off in 1968 to help mark the 20th anniversary of Israel’s creation; specifically, the relevant Dali prints represented here are a full set of coloured lithographic artwork reproductions that Dali signed. The owner of the collection is former Brown University professor David Blumenthal, who specialises in Jewish mysticism. The collection... Read more

Dalí retrospective pushing it at the Pushkin

Sep 18 2011 06:43PM | by Staff Editor

The irrepressible Salvador Dalí has been in the news again, this time for wholly artistic reasons: a retrospective with a Surrealist twist. The latest exhibition is entitled Salvador Dalí: a Retrospective at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts until November 13, 2011. The exhibition is part of a joint partnership between the Russian and Spanish governments recognising each other and promoting cultural and tourism aspects of their countries – bravo, we say. As part of the Spanish promotion, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí lent all the Dalí artworks, including 25 oil paintings, 70 drawings, photographs and 20 watercolours. Before we go on, some quick biographical facts about Dalí. The artist was born in 1904 in Catalonia, Spain; he studied at the Madrid School of Fine Arts before he moved to Paris, where he dabbled in Impressionism and Cubism. He eventually met Surrealist leaders such as Joan Miró, Max Ernst and Andre Breton, with whom he would find comradeship (although the mainstream group of surrealists would later denounce him for his outlandish behaviour and acts). Thus the latest exhibition at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is in many ways designed to highlight the individual and self obsessed aspects of... Read more

Dali, Coco and The Great Masturbator

Aug 08 2011 10:20AM | by Staff Editor

For all his alleged irrational fear of sex, Salvador Dalí certainly engaged in a lot of it, and painted a lot about it. Hundreds of Dalí paintings contain all sorts of erotic and sexual references, some subtle, some not so subtle. Today we’ll focus on the not-so-subtle: a look at one of his famous paintings, The Great Masturbator, and whether any links can be found into his private life. The Great Masturbator (1929) is a painting by Salvador Dalí, completed during the artist’s surrealist period. At first glance it can be hard to interpret – exactly what are we looking at? The centre of the painting features a distorted human face, viewed from profile and looking downwards; art scholars have argued the face was in fact based on the shape of a rock formation at Creus, along the shore of Catalonia that was a favourite Dalí location. The more immediate and obvious profile can be seen in the nude female figure attached to the head (the model is widely believed to be his nurse, Gala). Her head rises from the back of the central head and the combination is believed to be the masturbatory fantasy, as suggested by the title.... Read more

Dalí's descendents claim to resale royalties derailed

Aug 07 2011 10:19PM | by Staff Editor

In July this year a 22 year court battle finally came to an end after the European Court of Justice and a Parisian district court ruled that the Spanish state would receive payments over the resale of Dalí's artworks. This two decade long legal kerfuffle was the result of two issues: the French legal precedent of droit de suite, which mean payments are automatically received by artists or their heirs when their work is resold in France, and Dali’s will, which solely stipulated that the Spanish national government and the Catalonian town of Figueres share any revenue from re-sold works. Just what incident sparked such a long and costly event? Dali’s death in 1989 meant the artist left a legacy of about 15,000 works, many of which were bought and sold outside of Spain. Thus the amount of money able to be claimed over the re-sale of Dali paintings and artworks is potentially significant. According to European law, resale royalties are calculated in proportion to the hammer price, with all royalties also capped at €12,500. The scale is as follows: four percent of the first €50,000, three percent between €50,000 and €200,000, one percent between €200,000 and €350,000, one-half of... Read more

When a car needs wipers on the inside…

Jul 24 2011 09:54PM | by Staff Editor

What does your car say about you? Does the automobile you own sport racing lines and a loose muffler, so that everyone can hear when you race by? Or perhaps you count yourself among those whom love to tower over other roadsters in a military grade suburban tank in Titian Red? Maybe you own a hip, mini hatchback with just enough sportiness to turn the heads of the soccer moms? Or maybe, just maybe… you make a real statement, by having a Mannequin rotting in a taxi-cab. This car, aka Rainy Taxi, comes from the twisted mind of who else? Salvador Dali. Named for being a taxi where it rains inside, and houses a dripping passenger – a mannequin dressed by Dali himself, complete with Burgundy snails. And of course, the obvious question: What about the interior mats? You guessed it – moss and lichen carpeted the floor of the moist cabin to complete the Dali creation. Before becoming a rolling icon of the unorthodox and bursting onto the scene at the 1938 Surrealist Exhibition in Paris, the artist had to extract the old taxi from a breakers yard. After some slight modifications, it appeared, but not without controversy. Because... Read more

Happy birthday to Dali! He was born May 11, 1904

Jul 11 2011 12:01PM | by Staff Editor

To help mark Dali’s birthday (regardless of when this post is uploaded), we thought it would be nice to bring you a few little known facts about Dali. Yes, he was famous for being a painter, but he was also, as this blog will reveal, a writer, filmmaker, jewelry and furniture designer. But exactly what did he produce? A more than suitable starting point is a short investigation into several of Dali’s designs. Perhaps the most well known industrial design and product he produced was the Dali Lobster Phone, where a lobster shaped handset was in place of a regular handset. The phone was functionally built, and in many ways modern day mimics such as “thumb drives” with replica human thumbs as USB sticks find their artistic parentage in Dali. In 1937 Dali also created a silk and wood sofa shaped in the lips of Mae West, the famous actress whom he was infatuated by. The world of moviemaking always fascinated Dali and he also left his indelible mark in this industry. Dali’s first significant foray into the film world was a collaboration effort with Luis Buñuel on two films, the most notable of which was the 1929 short film,... Read more

A Facial Hair Registry Dali Would be Proud Of

May 24 2011 11:37AM | by Staff Editor

The Surrealist paintings of Salvador Dali made him famous. The Dali clocks dripping in a fantastical landscape, the image of Mae West interspersed with the architecture of a room and Jesus floating above his viewers as the sky darkens above – these are all iconic Dali paintings that Western viewers know by heart. Western viewers also know Dali for his own personal style. In a way, Dali's clothing and facial hair were works of art, and his public life was a performance. It's a shame, in a way, that Dali isn't alive today, as there are so many things about modern life that would have appealed to his sense of whimsy and humor. As an example, we think he would have adored the National Beard Registry. The National Beard Registry was founded in 2002, and the mission statement found on its website reads: "The National Beard Registry has been established to encourage men in all walks of life, from every continent, to resist conformity, corporate culture, and androgyny by embracing the beautiful, unique and utterly personal habit of growing a full beard … The National Beard Registry is based in America but the word National in its name applies to... Read more

Life of Salvador Dali Shown in 3D

May 03 2011 09:06AM | by Staff Editor

As a painter, Salvador Dali is hard to beat. His masterful use of color and line, along with his sense of imagination and play, are truly remarkable. His painting The Persistence of Memory is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Dali did a lot more than just paint, however. He directed commercials, participated in television programs and created segments for famous films. During his lifetime, Dali was famous simply for being a creative force. He seemed to be everywhere, doing everything, and having a great time in the process. The Dali biography, as a result, makes great fodder for films. The Australian director, Philippe Mora, has decided to take this idea one step further. Not only is he making a film about Dali, but also he's making the film in 3D format. The film begins with Dali recovering in a hospital after a fire in his home. He overhears a doctor talking about how the life of Dali would make a great film. From here, the viewer is taken into Dali's imagination, where scenes from his life meld with images of pure fantasy. Dali paintings appear in the film, as well as discussions about how he generated... Read more

The Dali Museum in Florida Opens to the Public

Apr 26 2011 10:33AM | by Staff Editor

In January of 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida, the largest Salvador Dali museum in the world once again opened its doors to the public. That's right: This museum has a larger collection of artwork by Dali than the artist's own Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres, Spain. The museum's collection was gathered by Eleanor and A. Reynolds Morse during a 45-year period of collecting. The couple originally opened a Dali museum near their home in Ohio, but moved the collection to Florida in the mid-1980s, searching for a larger space. The newly renovated and expanded museum is located in the heart of St. Petersburg and is a work of art in and of itself, featuring a panel of glass that curves and slides around the building and reflects the Florida sunshine. Inside the museum, visitors can look at over 96 oil paintings by Dali, 100 watercolors and drawings the artist produced and nearly 1,300 other photographs, sculptures and works of art by Dali. Viewers can also shop the gift shop for mementos of the visit. The museum promises to rotate its extensive collection of artwork by Dali on a frequent basis, so return visitors will see something new on each... Read more

Artwork by Dali Considered National Treasure in Scotland

Apr 10 2011 06:13PM | by Staff Editor

In early 1951, the city of Glasgow paid £8200 (about $13,000 USD) for a Salvador Dali painting. The price was considered high at the time, and many people in Glasgow criticized the purchase. Since that time, however, the patrons of the arts in Glasgow have changed their minds, and this particular piece of artwork by Salvador Dali has become incredibly popular, and the subject of bizarre claims by art lovers. The painting, Christ of St. John of the Cross depicts the crucifixion in a unique way. The viewer seems to be floating in the air just in front of the cross, looking down. A very muscular and sculpted Christ hangs on the cross, head bowed. The cross itself seems to hang suspended in the air, over an incredible landscape full of fishermen and boats. Many Dali paintings contain religious subjects, but this particular painting, due to its extreme angle and use of perspective, is quite unique. Viewers in 1951 considered the painting to be too extreme and too expensive. It was attacked twice, repaired expertly both times, and many art critics deplored the museum for purchasing the painting by Dali. However, people did come to the museum in large numbers... Read more