‘Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother’s portrait.’
“The only difference between me and a madman is I’m not mad.”
These are some quotes by this much-famed artist. It is very hard to believe on the second line after seeing the photographs. I mean, who would pose in front of camera like this when you know that you are a famous personality and will be seen everywhere. And what about the first quotation? Does it make any sense? Even after he said that ‘I am not strange, I am just not normal’, it will take some courage to consider him not strange after reading the full article.
Imprisonment and his thoughts upon the scene
Dali was born on 11th May 1904 in Figueres, Spain in a middle-class family. In childhood he was just a normal child with normal mentality and the childhood adventures. Well, it was true that as his passion was painting he didn’t have much interest in studying. Instead he would keep gazing at the stains of the leaking ceiling and imagine weird shapes in them.
His father Salvador Dalí i Cusí, was an important person in the town and took care of every major issues. When the government tried to ban the Catalan Language, his father openly supported for independence of Catalonians as he supported every issue in favor of the town. But this time the government got serious by unethically imprisoning Senior Dali’s son as a threat. Well, after two months everything got calmed down and Dali got released from the jail unharmed. This incident incarnated him as a local hero just like his father.
Though, in later days Dali remembered his imprisonment more than the reputation he got after that. About the jail-time he excluded a different tone than the most prisoners would do-
You know the worst thing is freedom. Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity. You know, Dalí spent two months in jail in Spain, and these two months were the most enjoyable and happy in my life. Before my jail period, I was always nervous, anxious. I didn’t know if I should make a drawing, or perhaps make a poem, or go to the movies or the theatre, or catch a girl, or play with the boys. The people put me in jail, and my life became divine. Tremendous!
Now we can say that he surely had different approaches on everything than a common person. He was thinking and living in his own fantasies while trying to impress the whole world with his art and with his bizarre personality which he deliberately formed to stand out from the crowd.
About his eccentric panting style, may be the habit of daydreams were the strong foundations of his famous paintings which were a kind of dreamscapes. He even said that it is kind of dreaming or meditating and right after that he would paint whatever he remembered from those dream or meditations.
Outcomes of his Dreams
Weird, strange, bizarre, odd, peculiar, outlandish…these words sound puny when we take a glance at his extraordinarily eccentric work. It is like his there is his own world of uncommon things where nothing is impossible and he takes inspirations from that realm to depict his world. His dreams and meditations brought some of the seminal art-pieces which were hard to understand at first but became phenomenal later on.
Though, it was not from the beginning that he started to depict his outlandish ideas. At the age of six his first complete painting represents an artist with regular psyche. First of his ‘normal’ works were Landscape Near Figueras and Vilabertran. Both depicted a beautiful depiction of natural environments.
It was around the year 1925 from where his paintings began to comprise weird elements and angels in them which looks irrelevant at first glance. From that time, Salvador started to include symbolism. As he progressed the sane and natural look totally got vanished and instead irrelevant things replaced them with unnatural representations.
As art-historian claim, the symbolism in his portrayals was consistent. Ants represented death, decay & sometimes immense sexual desire; eggs were depicted as symbol of hope & Love; snails would represent the connection with human head while the locusts stood for waste and fear. By understanding the symbolism and reason of the composition the way the elements were depicted.
Apart from the symbolism, some of his paintings also had elements of science and parody from time to time. He got very much affected about the DNA structures and some scientific theories like divine proportion and intra-atomic physics that he used some of the ideas in his paintings Leda Atomica and The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory. The last one mentioned (picture at the bottom-right corner in the image above) was inspired by Einstein’s theory of relativity in which he said that time is irrelevant in space. His parodies works include the titles such as Self-Portrait as Mona Lisa (on right).
Some names of his considered masterpieces are The Persistence of Memory, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee, The Face of War, Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man, The Invisible Man and Galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid. Though, these just the names which art-critics revered much. His entire oeuvre consist more than 1500 paintings and most of them are spectacularly enjoyable.
Works outside of his realm
By looking at the list of his endeavors outside of paintings, one can get a sense that he tried to make his presence in every artistic fields. He tried his hands on sculptures, theatres and films, fashion, photography, architecture, writing and graphics arts. In every field he didn’t leave his own unique style of bizarreness. All of them were artistic fields, thus, he had the freedom to produce the works which anyone would recognize as his work. To look upon every works could be a tedious job. So, we have sorted out some peculiar and remarkable deeds outside of his realm.
His known presence in film industry happened thanks to the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. In his movie, Spellbound, he needed a sequence of dream which could take the viewer in other-worldly land, which could not be related to the real world in any sense. The character in the story tells his doctor about his weird dreams. Though, the scene was cut out at the final stage but you can surely praise him for his extraordinary effort. You can watch the dream-sequence here:
Moreover, he also created posters for Hitchcock’s movies whose seminal impacts gave the art of movie-posters a new dimension and height.
Among his several movie projects, another important feature was his work with Walt Disney. Together, they intended to produce an animated movie called Destino (Destiny). It was a fantasized depiction of the ill-fated love story of Chronos who fell for a mortal woman. Due to some financial problems movie project was stopped. In 2003, Disney completed the movie after more than 50 years when it was commenced. A short surrealist-film called Un Chien Andalou is also notable as it was co-written by Dali.
This is a photo from the series of The Dali Amoticus, by Philippe Halsman. This ‘floating’ photography was inspired by Dali’s work Leda Atomica in which no objects touches each-other and seems floating in mid-air. This inspiring work made them to work upon this series which got famed in later years and inspired photographers to think ‘out-of-box’.
Other than these notable works his other worth-to-mention works in writing are The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, Diary of a Genius and The Paranoid-Critical Revolution. His renowned sculpture is Homage to Newton which inherited the required scientific qualities of open-mindedness and open-heartedness.
Bizarre behavior in Public
Dali never stayed sane whenever he was in public appearance. His gimmicks were so outrageous that sometimes he had to apologize for some of his bizarre activities.
In public he would speak with a combination of French, Spanish, Catalan and English, which was amusing for some and for some it was utterly irritating. Though doesn’t even deserve mention when we see at the other anecdotes. He was infamous for his exotic attires in public. When his exhibition in New York got successful, the authorities organized ‘Dali Ball’ in which he appeared with in a costume of a glass case on his chest, which contained a brassiere. In the London International Surrealist Exhibition, in his lecture he showed up with wearing a deep-sea diving suit and brass helmet along with a billiard cue and a pair of Russian Wolfhounds. The reason he declared was “I just wanted to show that I was ‘plunging deeply’ into the human mind.”
But the most displeasing attire he showed up with was he showed up with was dressing up as Lindbergh baby and the kidnapper, by him and his wife. The case of Lindbergh baby was very controversial and people had some emotional attachment with the baby. Thus, this mockery created rejection and condemnation to the idea, resulting as Dali’s public-apology.
In one more incident he gave Mia Furrow –a famous actress- a dead mouse in a bottle hand-painted by him. You can’t justify that oddity.
Maybe we can’t figure out why he lived like this. Because even he was not so sure about his behavior as he said: It is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself.
His height of fame in world is expressed when we know that there is a desert called ‘Salvador Dali Desert’ due to the similar characteristics with the landscape of desert and Dali’s works.
After all this stunts and weirdness he still was a normal human being from inside. He was very much afraid of grasshoppers, assassination and germs. Loved nickname Avida Dollars (an anagram of his name meaning greedy for dollars) given by his fellows and also produced a very, very unconnected work to his oeuvre – a logo for a lollipop company:
Well, even after his unpredictable behavior, he said some very clever thoughts. When asked why he was so strange, he simply said:
‘I myself am surrealism’.