ARTSALVE PRODUCTIONS
GRAPHIC AND COMMUNICATION DESIGN

SALVADOR DALÍ

THE SURREAL WORLD

The famous Spanish surrealist painter, Salvador Dalí had artistic repertoire that included sculpture, painting, photography, multimedia work, and collaborations with other artists, most notably independent surrealist films. Dalí was born in a quasi-surreal existence. His brother, also named Salvador, died as a toddler, nine months before Dalí’s birth. His parents told him he was the reincarnation of his older brother, which he also came to believe. As a child, Dalí attended drawing school, and by the age of thirteen, Dalí’s father was arranging exhibitions of his charcoal drawings. In 1922, Dalí went to study at the School of Fine Arts in San Fernando, where he was known as a bit of a dandy, wearing long hair and sideburns, and stockings with knee breeches in the style of 19th century aesthetes.

A Soft Self–Portrait


During his stay at the academy, Dalí tried his hand in cubism and dada. But his stay was short lived, after he was expelled a few weeks before final exams, for stating that no one in the school was qualified enough to examine him. After his expulsion, he traveled to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, who heavily influenced his painting styles. Dalí continually borrowed from many painting styles. From impressionism to renaissance works, he combined all elements into single compositions, raising interesting critiques from art critics, who were unsure as how to received his works. Always a dandy, Dalí grew a large moustache, which was a trademark of his appearance for the rest of his life.

In 1929, Dalí began a relationship with the woman who would later become his wife, Gala. His father disapproved, and saw his connection with surrealism as a demoralizing influence on his son. Upon hearing reports that Dalí had created a work with an inscription insulting his mother, who had died eight years earlier of breast cancer, the elder Dalí disowned and disinherited his son, telling him never to return home. Dalí then married Gala and moved into a house at Port Lligat.

Dalí spent the middle and late years of his life between the United States and his beloved Catalonia, Spain, collaborating with other artists, canoodling with social elites, and creating many stories for the newspapers. After his wife’s death in 1982, Dalí lost much of his will to live, and purposely dehydrated himself almost to the point of death. There was also a mysterious fire in his apartment in 1984, from which he was saved, but many thought was a suicide attempt. He died of heart failure five years later at the age of 84.



Religion, Subconscious, Luxury and Death

Interviewer

Good evening … Tonight we go after the story of an extraordinary personality. He’s Salvador Dalí, the great surrealist painter who sees the world through surrealist eyes. If you’re curious to hear Salvador Dalí talk about decadence, death and immortality, about his surrealist art, his politics and his existence before he was born,we’ll go after those stories in just a moment. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Parliament … And now to our story. Salvador Dalí is a self-confessed genius with an ingenious flair for publicity. An internationally renowned modern artist, he’s also designed fur lined bathtubs, he’s lectured with his head enclosed in a diving helmet and he claims that at the basis of his ideas are, as he puts it, cauliflowers and rhinoceros horns … He paints like this, here you see perhaps his most famous work. It’s called “Persistence of Memory”. In contrast to this dream like picture, here is Dalí’s surrealistic commentary on the horrors of war. It’s called “The Face of War”. And now an example of Dalí’s latest phase, “The Crucifixion” showing his current preoccupation with religious subjects. Now let’s try to find out some more about the enigma of Salvador Dalí … Dalí, first of all let me ask you this, you’re a remarkable painter and you’ve dedicated your life to art, in view of this, why do you behave the way that you do? For instance, you have been known to drive in a car filled to the roof with cauliflowers. You lectured, as I mentioned, once with your head enclosed in a diving helmet and you almost suffocated. You issue bizarre statements about your love for rhinoceros horns and so on. You’re a dedicated artist, why do you or why must you do these things?

Dalí

Because for this kind of eccentricities correspond with more important and the more tragical part of my life.

Interviewer

The more important and the more tragical part. I don’t understand.

Dalí

The more philosophical.

Interviewer

Well, what is philosophical about driving in a car full of cauliflowers or lecturing inside a diving helmet?

Dalí

Because discover and make one tremendous speech, a most scientific in the Sorbonne in Paris … of what my discovering of the logarithmic curve of cauliflower.

Interviewer

Well, what is philosophical about driving in a car full of cauliflowers or lecturing inside a diving helmet?

Dalí

Because discover and make one tremendous speech, a most scientific in the Sorbonne in Paris … of what my discovering of the logarithmic curve of cauliflower.

Interviewer

The what?

Dalí

logarithmic curve of cauliflower.

Interviewer

Oh yes, the “logarithmic curve” … yes …

Dalí

And if in time the logarithmic curve in the horns of rhinoceros — in this time discover, this is a symbol of chastity, one of the most powerful symbols of modern times.

Interviewer

Chastity is one of the most powerful symbols of modern times?

Dalí

In my opinion it is the more … urgent and the more dramatic because the chastity represents the force of spirit … chaste in any religion, you know because of promiscuity, the people make love, there is no more the spiritual strength, no more the spiritual thoughts.

Interviewer

Well, we’ll get to your spirituality your increasing spirituality over the years in just a moment. About lecturing with your head enclosed in a diving helmet, why? why?

Dalí

Because I think there is nothing like it. The audience understand Dalí when penetrate in the bottom of the sea …

Interviewer

What’s that?

Dalí

Penetrate.

Interviewer

Penetrate ?

Dalí

In the bottom of subconscient mean … sea … In— inside the sea.

Interviewer

Yes, down in the sea?

Dalí

In the depth of the sub-conscious.

Interviewer

In the depth of the sub-conscious?

Dalí

Exactly. The sea is one very clear symbol for arriving this stage of …

Interviewer

We try to understand in all seriousness … We try to understand you and you try to explain but earlier this week you told our reporter, “I like to be a clown, a buffoon, I like to spread complete confusion.” Before we were on the air, you said to me. “Ask embarrassing questions, ask embarrassing questions”. Why?

Dalí

Because incidentally, make one movie in France, only it is movie of myself dance Charleston and my friends look this piece of movie at all, Dalí in this part is much better than Charlie Chaplin. For me is very interesting …

Interviewer

Well are you …

Dalí

… because you see in Dalí is one marvelous painter, in living time is one marvelous clown … much more interesting for everybody

Interviewer

You want to be a marvelous clown as well as a marvelous painter?

Dalí

If it is possible, live two together is very good, you know. Charlie Chaplin is one genial clown but never painted like Dalí, Charlie Chaplin’s living times paint masterpieces. Or is thousand times much more important to Charlie Chaplin.

Interviewer

Well now wait. Wait. Despite your hi-jinks, time and again you have called yourself a genius and you’re very serious about this. Now you want to be evidently, you want to be a genius in two fields. First of all, you have called yourself a genius?

Dalí

In many different fields, you know.

Interviewer

You?

Dalí

Yes.

Interviewer

What else besides an artist?

Dalí

The most important in my life, modern clown, modern painting, modern draftsmanship is my personality.

Interviewer

Draftsmanship?

Dalí

My personality?

Interviewer

Oh yes.

Dalí

My personality is more important than any of these little facets of my activities.

Interviewer

In other words, what is most important to you …

Dalí

Is my personality.

Interviewer

… is expressing Dalí, not the painting, not the clowning, nothing but …

Dalí

The painting, the clowning, the showmanship, the technique - everything is only one manner for express the total personality of Dalí.

Interviewer

I see, I see. Let’s take a look at one of your major paintings, Dalí. It’s called “Sleep”. There it is now on the monitor. What’s the point of this picture? Is there any point?

Dalí

This is very important because myself work constantly in the moment of sleep … Every of my best ideas coming through my dreams and the more Dalían activity consists in this moment of sleep.

Interviewer

In other words, you conceive a good deal of your …

Dalí

The most important things happen in the moment of myself in sleep …

Interviewer

I was going to ask if there was any major theme, any powerful idea which inspires all your work, could you tell us what it was? Evidently what it is, is simply an expression of Dalí, period. There is nothing more in it or am I wrong?

Dalí

No, Dalí. Of course, the cosmogony of Dalí.

Interviewer

The what?

Dalí

Cosmogony of Dalí.

Interviewer

What is the cosmogony of Dalí? What does that mean?

Dalí

This is in advance of a new nuclear physics, because every of my paintings, everybody laugh in the moment of look for the first time but almost after twelve years every scientific people recognize the area of this painting is one real prophecy in the moment of painting my soft watches, the more rigid object for everybody, and myself paint these watches in the soft Camembert — everybody laugh. The last development of nuclear physics proved to a new conception of space-time is completely flexible. Now it is in microphysics the time brought in reverse and this proved that this object of completely surrealistic approach of soft watches for what is completely true and scientific …

Interviewer

Dalí, I must confess, you lost me about half way through and I’m not sure I’m not sure that we can let me try it another way. What does a painter, what does any painter contribute to the world and to his fellowmen? Any painter, not just Dalí. What does a painter contribute?

Dalí

Every painter paints the cosmogony of himself.

Interviewer

Of himself, and it’s as simple as that? Which contains …

Dalí

Raphael paint because of the cosmogony of Raphael. Raphael is the Renaissance period. Dalí paint the atomic age and the Freudian age nuclear things and psychologic things.

Interviewer

Which contemporary painters, if any, do you admire?

Dalí

First Dalí, after Dalí, Picasso, after this, no others.

Interviewer

Of these, Dalí and Picasso are the only two that really excite you?

Dalí

The two geniuses of modern painting.

Interviewer

The two geniuses of modern times are Dalí and Picasso? In your autobiography, you wrote this, you said, “I adore three things, weakness, old age and luxury”. Why?

Dalí

Because luxury is one product of monarchy, and myself every day becoming more monarchy, not in a political way because never is Dalí interested in political … but …

Interviewer

In politics.

Dalí

In the philosophical and cosmological …

Interviewer

Way?

Dalí

Yes, because in the modern sense, the new discoveries of chromosomes and physics and biology, everything through the monarchy is the most luxurious things in life …

Interviewer

The most luxurious, all right. Now, old age …

Dalí

… and the most perfect.

Interviewer

And the most perfect? And old age? Why do you adore old age?

Dalí

Because the little young peoples completely stupid, you know.

Interviewer

Young people are stupid?

Dalí

They all only believe geniuses are old people [like] Leonardo de Vinci or arrive at some real achievement.

Interviewer

And weakness, why do you adore weakness?

Dalí

Because in the modern physics everything is weak, every proton and neutron is surrounded of weakness, of nothing. In this moment the most fantastic thing in physics is le anti-matter. Every new physician talk about anti-matter, and Dalí paint, 20 years ago, le first anti-matter angels.

Interviewer

You write in your biography that death is beautiful. What’s beautiful about death? Why is death beautiful?

Dalí

This is one feeling everything is erotic in my opinion.

Interviewer

Everything is what?

Dalí

Erotic.

Interviewer

Erotic?

Dalí

… is ugly, in the middle of everything ugly so arrive the feeling of death, everything becomes noble and sublime.

Interviewer

Oh, in other words, life is erotic and therefore ugly. Death is not erotic but sublime, therefore beautiful?

Dalí

And beautiful. You know for instance, you, Micky Wallace, now is you a little good pay, a little handsome, but essentially, you becoming death, everybody tips his chapeau to you, you become fantastic man, everybody respects you a thousand times much better.

Interviewer

Is this by way of a suggestion?

Dalí

Exactly. See you make one strip tease, you become ugly in one second.

Interviewer

Oh, I agree, I agree. Tell me this, what do you think will happen to you when you die?

Dalí

myself not believe in my death.

Interviewer

You will not die?

Dalí

No, no believe in general in death but in the death of Dalí absolutely not. Believe in my death becoming very — almost impossible.

Interviewer

You fear death?

Dalí

Yes.

Interviewer

Death is beautiful but you fear death?

Dalí

Exactly … because Dalí is contradictory and paradoxical man.

Interviewer

Well yes indeed, Dalí is paradoxical and contradictory but why — why this fear of death? What do you fear in death?

Dalí

Because there is no sufficient convenience of my faith in religion. In the moment of myself believe more?

Interviewer

You’re not sufficiently convinced of your faith …

Dalí

Exactly.

Interviewer

… in religion. Well now I spoke with you about a year ago and we talked about religion, and you said that as the years go by,you embrace Roman Catholicism more and more with your mind but not yet completely with your heart.

Dalí

This is true.

Interviewer

Why not?

Dalí

Because … perhaps it is my early intellectual training and information. But now every day is more approach of this real feeling of religion. Just one month ago— is one tremendous operation of appendix - a broken appendix. After this operation becoming three times more religious than before.

Interviewer

How old are you Dalí?

Dalí

Never remember exactly, but 54 or 53 or something.

Interviewer

Are you formally involved with your religion? Do you go to church a good deal - do you pray - do you …

Dalí

Every day more, but is no sufficient …

Interviewer

Not sufficient … Have you ever had a supernatural vision?

Dalí

Visionary things - but no supernatural.

Interviewer

No supernatural. An article about you - you mention your fear of death. An article about you in Life magazine once said that you’re afraid of almost everything from ocean liners to grasshoppers. The article said you won’t buy shoes because you don’t like to take off your shoes in public. And that when you go out you carry a little piece of Spanish driftwood which you keep to ward off evil spells.

Dalí

Yes, because remind very very superstitious but this is- I’m sure is is common of every Spanish people, you know. Spanish people is very superstitious.

Interviewer

Do you know anything about politics at all? You say you don’t care about them. Do you know anything about them? Do you know, for instance who the prime minister of Great Britain is?

Dalí

Yes, but no - not particularly care of this. Because, for me the important thing is look - the philosophical event of every moment. And now is absolutely sure for instance, monarchy is restored in Spain very shortly.

Interviewer

You think it will be?

Dalí

Prince Juan Carlos and Franco agree on its restoration. Is absolutely convincing the monarchy coming back in France very shortly after one military mayor or perhaps one De Gaulle or another …

Interviewer

Do you know - do you know who the Vice President of the United States is? Can you name him …

Dalí

Mr. Nixon. Yes, yes - but, but what is possible now - what is possible perhaps tomorrow you put this in quick question and …

Interviewer

And you will answer … What do you enjoy doing most? Do you like to talk, to paint, to eat, to think? What, what do you like to spend your time doing, Dalí?

Dalí

My manner of expend my time - is the more joy, the more delightful is becoming every day - a little more - Dalí.

Interviewer

A little more Dalí.

Dalí

Because in the beginning of my life, you remember in like at becoming Napoleon …

Interviewer

First you wanted to be a cook - first you waited to be a cook, then you wanted to be a Napoleon.

Dalí

Cook and woman - one woman cooking.

Interviewer

You wanted to be a woman, cooking?

Dalí

Exactly … a woman cooking. Second, like of becoming Napoleon.

Interviewer

Napoleon.

Dalí

A little one like it becoming Dalí. And now is every day more Dalí.

Interviewer

In a moment I’d like to ask you about an extraordinary power which you claim that you have. You’ve written that you can remember your thoughts and your feelings before you were born. And I’d like to know what those thoughts and feelings were … Now then, Dalí - you said that you can remember not only things that happened to you in your infancy, but even your feelings before you were born. What were they? What did you think about? What did you feel?

Dalí

Well I remember very clearly many mansions. How so - not only in black and white but in glorious technicolor … technicolor.

Interviewer

I see, and what specifically.. What were some of these things?

Dalí

At some phosphorous and x–luminous–x … .I told these visions to Doctor Freud in London. Freud tell me that it is absolutely true - is the region of intra-uterine memories. Probably my position - fetal position, my pupils is very hurt by my hands. Depend on my position.

Interviewer

Was it - well, what was it like? Was it, was it pleasant before you were born?

Dalí

Ah - it was completely paradise.

Interviewer

Paradise …

Dalí

From this moment the more divine nature - in the moment of born is the moment of the paradise is lost. This is an ethereal …

Interviewer

Well, under those circumstances I find it difficult to understand your fear of death. If the moment of being born was paradise-lost, perhaps death, for you will be paradise-regained. And therefore I would think that you would …

Dalí

This is my hope. But is not absolutely sure. This is the trouble. You see, the death is again the regain of this paradise - this is excellent, but is not, not sure.

Interviewer

Do you, do you enjoy yourself as you live. Do you like yourself? You think - you say that you are a genius. Certainly you have had …

Dalí

I enjoy my life every day more.

Interviewer

You do …

Dalí

Every week more. Because of Sir Dalí - and my admiration for Dalí is becoming tremendous.

Interviewer

Yes, What kind of dreams do you have? What are they about, Dalí?

Dalí

Every time is very agreeable and creative. The last dreams is about the anti-matter angels. Perhaps for five months only dream about archangels, angels, kings and the most beautiful spectacular.

Interviewer

You seem to be a mild-mannered man. Are you?

Dalí

I don’t understand - mild?

Interviewer

Are you, are you a mild man? Are you a pleasant man to deal with? Are you a friendly man? You seem to be a mild man.

Dalí

Everybody love Dalí very much.

Interviewer

Everybody loves Dalí.

Dalí

But they pick on him.

Interviewer

But your paintings - they’re frequently violent. And you’ve written, that in your private life you have had sudden impulses to injure people. As a child you kicked people - you threw a friend off a rocky ledge. As an adult you confessed that you once kicked a legless beggar along the street.

Dalí

Exactly. But this is my adolescence period. Now becoming much more quiet in these kind of sadistic things.

Interviewer

Yes …

Dalí

As a contrary - after my religious feelings becoming more strong - these sadistic things of my adolescence disappeared almost completely.

Interviewer

Is that so? And, and when you were a young man, too, you used to try to hurt - you were masochistic as well as sadistic. You used to try to hurt yourself … you’d bind your head until it hurt, because you felt that you could be more creative that way. You do not need that …

Dalí

No - now every of this has disappear because every of my libido now is simply made in the religion and the mysticism.

Interviewer

Well, there’s one story about yourself I’d like to ask you about before you go. When you were courting your wife, Gala you did an unusual thing. As you’ve described it, you smeared your body with your own blood from a cut. You tore your clothes and then you rubbed a jar of evil-smelling fish glue all over yourself. And you planned to present yourself this way in front of your future wife. Why did you do that?

Dalí

Because in this moment of weakness in this moment Dalí is true is almost crazy before met Gala. My, my brain is very close of one sick pathologic brain.

Interviewer

Your brain, yes …

Dalí

In this moment liked seduce Gala in the most terrific manner. I believe from the smell is a more attractive manner for seduce Gala. Gala becoming in love with me appears as probably the real … Gala created the real mysticism or the real classicist of my adult life.

Interviewer

And you have been married now to Gala for how many years?

Dalí

Oh perhaps 20 or more, but is still in love with Gala - more than in the beginning. That is something that nobody believe. Perhaps - Dalí never make love avec one other woman than Gala.

Interviewer

In 20 years.

Dalí

And the people never believe because - everybody …

Interviewer

Why - why shouldn’t we believe? It’s the most sensible thing in the world.

Dalí

Yes, but there is no … you should believe - it’s very frequent. But the other people don’t think it’s very exceptional.

Interviewer

Well I don’t think perhaps as exceptional as …

Dalí

And now my obsession is the chastity, because …

Interviewer

Chastity …

Dalí

… is more important for religious belief.

Interviewer

Dalí, I certainly thank you for coming and spending this time. I’m looking forward to the publication of your new book, “Dalí” which will be published in the Fall and I understand will have a good many color plates of your paintings in it. Thank you Dalí.

Dalí

Merci.

Interviewer

To those who raise eyebrows or look down their noses at him, Salvador Dalí bristles his remarkable moustache with equal disdain. As he puts it, “I cannot understand why human beings should be so little individualized. Why they should behave with such great collective uniformity.” He says, “I do not understand why, when I ask for grilled lobster in a restaurant, I’m never served a cooked telephone.” …

[Interview by Mike Wallace 1958]
© 2017 ARTSALVE PRODUCTIONS.