SALVADOR DALI: A Story of Cruel Brilliance

Paintings are usually considered so soothing and pleasing to the eyes. The same goes for a painter, the first impression that we draw is that of a beautiful mind. What if I tell you that there once was a painter who was extremely fiend, still made legendary paintings. Well, let me fuel your excitement a little bit more. I guess most of you would have seen the MONEY HEIST, even if not the series, at least the poster. So, the masks they wear are inspired by the man I am talking about…SALVADOR DALI. He was a Spanish artist who had one after the other controversial stories attached to him. So, what made his life so interesting…let’s see.

Bitter Childhood

Dali was born in 1904 in the Figueres district of Spain. Incidentally, he was born just 9 months after the death of his elder brother and was given the same name as him…Salvador.  He later recalled the incident saying “We were like two drops of water, but, maybe he was more of a shadow”. Later, he also immortalised his brother in a painting titled The Portrait of My Dead Brother. On the other hand, while his mother was very soft and close to him, his father was extremely strict and rather arrogant. Dali was just 16 when his mother passed away. He never had close or good relations with his father. Almost immediately, his father married his mother’s younger sister. This further distanced Dali from his father, though he always liked her stepmom.

Portrait of my dead brother | Fundació Gala - Salvador Dalí

Pic: The Portrait of My Dead Brother

Friendship-cum-Relationship with LORCA

Dali was always average in his studies. He seemed very different from the group and always lost in himself. One day he met a boy named Fredrio Garcia Lorca, with whom he went on to develop an ‘unclassified’ relationship. Dali considered him a friend, but Lorca’s feelings were much deeper than that. The point of his affection went through the path of Intimacy, but that was something Dali didn’t want to indulge in. So…he just left the relationship and went away from Lorca…once and forever.  Surprisingly, after some years, when the news of Lorca’s death reached Dali, his reaction was…“Oley” (Very Nice). Now, no one knows the exact reasoning or feeling behind Dali’s statement. But, since then almost every painting of Dali had one or the other reference to Lorca.

File:Salvador Dalí, Federico García Lorca, Barcelona, 1925.jpg - Wikipedia

Pic: Salvador Dali and Fredrio Garcia Lorca

Dali’s Moustache

Dali’s moustache was inspired by another artist DAVID MELASCUS. He was also very famous for his controversial paintings. Especially, his The Toilet of Venus was controversial yet famous. It gave the message that nothing in life is permanent…not even Beauty. One day a woman-rights activist attacked it using a cutter. She was frustrated by the fact that men come and stare at nude women for the full day and think all ‘manly’ things. Later, we know that the moustache inspired not just Dali, but from him the whole world through MONEY HEIST masks.

DALI’s Peculiar Thinking

Dali had some peculiar thoughts related to ‘Sex’ and since then he couldn’t imagine a girl without that angle. During his childhood, he read Sigmund Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams‘ which further peculiarized his thinking. It was very visible in his paintings, where women were presented in a very ‘raw’ and ‘revealing’ way. It was said that he used a ‘Paranoid Critical Method’, where he locked himself up, took his mind to an extreme point and came up with some peculiar stuff. His anger can be just understood by the fact that once someone changed something in his painting gallery, without asking him, so Dali threw a whole bathtub outside the gallery. His abnormalcy can be seen in facts when he went with a Rolls Royce filled with cauliflower and once with an ‘Ant-eater’ animal.  He started getting more insane with age, but always had just one answer “There is just one difference between an insane person and me and it is that I am not insane”. He was also accused of being a drug addict pertaining to his abnormal acts. To this, he replied, “I don’t take drugs…I am drugs”. 

The Paris Review - When Your Muse Is Also a Demonic Dominatrix

Pic: Salvador Dali and Gala Dali

The Love Story of DALI and GALA

During an exhibition, one of Dali’s paintings was gaining huge praise. The unique painting was spreading the theme of Sex, Rejection, Dejection and Seduction. One of the very famous poets of the time, Paul Eluard also came to see the painting along with his wife GALA. Interestingly, the painting wasn’t named till then, so Paul Eluard himself named it The Lugubrious Game which meant ‘filled with extreme sadness‘. Now, wait for the surprise!!! While the husband Eluard was praising the painting, Dali was falling in everlasting love with Eluard’s wife Gala. As if all the feelings from the painting were being literally present in the environment.

Slowly, they came into a relationship, going against all societal norms. Even Dali’s father was strictly against this relationship. But, once Dali and Gala got together, Dali went closer and closer to Christian writings. One of his paintings The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ also came up around that time. Surprisingly, it was only Gala with whom Dali behaved ‘normally’, in the context of talking, behaving or even having intimate relations. Dali was trying to build a castle-like Villa just for Gala very near to the seashore using all his money (piece by piece). Amidst all this, Dali gave a statement that “I make paintings for fun…sometimes I spit on the painting of my Dead Mother…for fun”. This statement infuriated Dali’s father and he threw Dali’s name from his Will as well from his house. Dali now started living in a small shelter among fishermen near the water.

Dali Persistence of Memory | The drooping pocketwatches possibly suggest  the irrelevance of time during sleep. In o… | Dali paintings, Dali art,  Surrealism painting

Pic: The Persistence of TIme

A Look at some Popular Dali’s Paintings

Dali was coming up with one painting after the other. Despite being crazy, all his paintings had so much uniqueness and newness, that he was the centre of attraction. The New Yorker commented on Dali’s paintings “He puts froze nightmares into your eyes”. One of his paintings Dialogue on the Beach was so sexually intense, that no one really agreed to put it on display. During the Second World War, he also made a painting titled The Face of the War. He also met Sigmund Freud (his childhood hero) and made a couple of paintings on him. Freud was very impressed with him and said ‘He is a freak like an extremist’. But, perhaps the most famous painting of his life was The Persistence of Time. The painting showed that time has ‘melted’ and ants are eating the clock. In an era, when different theories on time were being given, Dali had just redefined everything. Another painting of his was My Wife Nude Contemplating her own Body transformed into steps three Vertebrates of her own Body, Sky and Architecture…yes it’s the title.

My Wife, Nude, Contemplating Her Own Flesh Becoming Stairs, Three Vertebrae  of a Column, Sky and Architecture, 1945 - Salvador Dali -

Pic: My Wife Nude Contemplating her own Body transformed into steps three Vertebrates of her own Body, Sky and Architecture:

Dali Connection with Books

Actually, Dali wrote an autobiography titled The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. What this book did was it brought an even more intense and cruel side of Dali. He was literally justifying and celebrating his dark side. Dali wrote in his autobiography that once he found an almost dead ‘Bat’, he kept it inside a tin. The next day he saw that e has been eaten up half by ants. You know what he did…he ate the remaining half”. Dali’s sister also wrote a book on Dali titled Salvador Dali was seen by his Sister. In this book, more than Dali she criticized Gala, which seriously offended Dali.

Later, George Orwell completely ripped Dali apart in his book Benefits of Clergy. He attacked Dali for whitewashing all his cruelty and insanity in the name of ‘art’. Orwell argued that an autobiography that just highlights positives about a man is actually a FRAUD. He even said that Dali has done whitewashing and cherry-picking so intensely, that the impression of Dali is not coming out even ‘normal’.

“What is Dali…a great painter and a very pathetic person…if a book could have given a foul smell, then it is Dali’s autobiography” – George Orwell

Dali’s Politics

Initially, Dali was on the side of revolutionary artists and used to voice for the poor and helpless. But, after some time he shifted to the side of General Franco…the leader of the fascist side during the 1940s Spanish Civil War. He said that “An artist has got nothing to do with politics”. His paintings like A Basket of Bread and The Metamorphosis of the Narcissist were clear support for Franco. At this point, he used to publicly criticize the artists active in politics. His painting ” became very famous during this period. The other side mainly comprised of artists, revolutionaries and Communists. Franco being a fascist took the support of another fascist…HITLER crushed his dissenters and critics. Dali’s friend LORCA too died in these attacks only.

Separation from Gala and Death

Dali was a mentally peculiar man, as we have seen. His behaviour and activities soon were not even being borne by his wife, Gala. She wasn’t able to tolerate his extreme version anymore. In fact, she didn’t want to see his face. To stop her, Dali even gifted her the castle that he built over the years, to her. She started living there but only on the condition that Dali will enter there only with her permission. By then Gala had got very old and weak, she was 87 years old then and died soon.

Dali was a broken and devastated man now. He hardly ate anything and soon was hit by Parkinson’s disease as well. Now, his artistic hand trembled like anything. His last painting came in 1983 The Swallow’s Tale based on French mathematician Rene Thom’s Catastrophic Theory. People were literally shocked to see such straight and perfect strokes by a man suffering from Parkinson’s. One day he was barely saved as his house caught fire. He was transferred to a museum of Dali’s paintings, which was designed by Dali himself. He finally died there in 1989.

Rainy Taxi (Mannequin Rotting in a Taxi-Cab), 1938 - Salvador Dali -

Pic: The Rainy Taxi

Dugout after Death

But Dali’s story didn’t end even after he was dead. Surprisingly, quite recently in 2017, a girl claimed that she is Dali’s child. The matter became so serious that his whole body had to be dug out for the test. Here, protests also erupted in support of Dali making the matter even tenser. Here, everyone remembered the time when Dali made a sculpture The Rainy Taxi where a topless taxi comprising of corpses being fed by insects as getting filled with rain. Finally, nothing was found like that and her claims were refuted. Well, Dali had once said…A Genius has got no right to Die.

A Life with all the Emotions

So…wasn’t this one hell of a life. However creepy or cruel his thinking might be, no one can doubt his brilliance. He came up with paintings showcasing concepts which were never shown before. His emotions were a huge ROLLERCOASTER, sometimes he joked about his mother’s death and sometimes he celebrated the death of his friend. But the fact that all his paintings contained his friend’s reference shows that there was one soft corner as well. The whole life he loved just one girl, but catastrophe panned out such that he couldn’t liver her last moments with her. He justified his pathetic thoughts by glorifying them, but his end saw the most artistic hand trembling badly. At the end, however have been his life, we should definitely take a look at such an interesting rollercoaster.

“The Difference between Surrealists and me is that…I am Surrealist”

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