Salvador Dali is an icon of the Surrealist art movement. He believed that life is the greatest form of art, so he lived his life boldly, with extreme eccentricity, long hair, dandy clothes and a funky moustache. Read on to find out six surreal stories that you might not know about this crazy character…
1. He didn’t understand his own work
You may look at a Dali painting and wonder what on earth it all means. There’s a melting clock, an upside-down world and lobster telephone. But what hope do we have of understanding the work if the artist himself doesn’t know what it’s about? He said, "The fact that I myself, at the moment of painting, do not understand my own pictures, does not mean that these pictures have no meaning; on the contrary, their meaning is so profound, complex, coherent, and involuntary that it escapes the most simple analysis of logical intuition.”
Photo by San Sharma
2. He was expelled from art school
Even though Dali studied for many years at the Special Painting, Sculpture and Engraving School of San Fernando in Madrid, he never graduated. That’s because, during his very last exam at the school, he insulted a professor, saying that the teachers weren’t qualified enough to test him, and was immediately expelled. But some good did come out of his college days; it was there that he met Le Corbusier, Einstein, Calder and Stravinsky, and after being expelled he headed to Paris to visit Pablo Picasso in his studio and probably learnt more there than he did at school.
Photo by Carlos Delgado
3. Dali was influenced by Freud
Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and his theories were what inspired Dali to attempt to capture images of dreams and hallucinations. Dali never used drugs and only drank alcohol in moderation, so he accessed his subconscious through the hypnotic state between being awake and sleep. Basically, by napping in the afternoon! It’s easy to see this ‘subconscious imagery’ in his paintings – where else would you see a long-legged elephant walking past a giant eye hanging from the branch of a tree?
4. He believed he was reincarnated
Dali’s parents had another son – also called Salvador – who died extremely young. So, when he was born 9 months to the day after the death of the first Dali child, the family believed that he was a reincarnation of his older brother. Dali was told this throughout his young life, so he developed a personality that was big enough for two and became a notoriously eccentric character.
5. Dali worked with Disney
After making surreal films in Paris with director Luis Buñuel, Dalí went to Hollywood to work with some world-famous directors. Dalí's paintings were used in a dream sequence in the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘Spellbound’ in 1945. A year later, he created a short film with Walt Disney called Destino, a beautifully weird film that was only released in 2003. Looking back at some of the early Disney films, such as Pinocchio with the frightening Pleasure Island scene and the trippy world of Fantasia, we can’t say we’re surprised to hear that the animator collaborated with Dali.
6. He was shunned by surrealists
By 1930, Salvador Dalí had become a notorious figure of the Surrealist movement but he clashed with other members and, in a "trial" in 1934, he was expelled from the group. Whether it was down to his feud with Surrealist leader André Breton or due to his "counter-revolutionary activity” during the second world war, we’ll never know. Even after leaving the Surrealist movement, Dalí continued to exhibit his work in international Surrealist shows well into the 1940s. You just can’t keep a good lobster down…