18 Surreal Facts About Salvador Dalí

More Facts about Salvador Dalí (continued)

 

 

10. He loved throwing dinner parties.

Dalí and his wife Gala loved staging elaborate dinner parties. But, in true Dalí fashion, these weren't ordinary dinners. Guests were asked to arrive dressed in costume to match the evening's theme and wild animals would roam free around the room. In 1973, he even published a cookbook—Les Diners de Galawith recipes for bizarre items like “Veal Cutlets Stuffed with Snails” and “Toffee with Pinecones.”

 

11. He paid his restaurant bills in doodles.

Thrifty and clever, Dalí found an innovative way get out of paying for a meal. It's said that when he dined with a large group of friends, he would offer to pay the bill. He'd then pay with a check, but include a doodle on the back knowing that the check would never get cashed seeing as the doodle he'd left was infinitely more valuable.

 

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12. He moonlighted as a fashion designer.

Dalí loved fashion. He worked closely with Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who created designs based on his artwork. In particular, his Aphrodisiac Lobster Telephone was an inspiration, and they worked on a lobster dress for Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, in the 1930s. He also created a shoe-shaped hat, a belt with lips as a buckle, perfume bottles, and numerous textile designs. In 1950, he collaborated with close friend Christian Dior on a project about fashion inspired by the future. Dalí's contribution was “A dress for 2045.”

 

13. He produced covers for Vogue.

When we think of Vogue covers, photographs of supermodels come to mind. But Dalí created four covers for the legendary fashion magazine. His first, the December 1938 cover, shows two women. The woman in the foreground has a head formed from flowers, while the woman in the background has branches streaming from her head. His April 1944 design sees him incorporate the word Vogue into his art piece. For the December 1971 issue, he not only designed the cover, but also acted as editor.

 

 

14. He designed jewelry—including a pulsating heart.

The Royal Heart is a dazzling masterpiece crafted from 18k gold and covered with 46 rubies, 42 diamonds, two emeralds, and other precious gems. And that's not the most impressive part. An internal mechanism causes The Royal Heart to beat as though it were a live human heart.

The Royal Heart is the centerpiece of the Dalí-Joies collection now located at the Dalí Museum in Figueres, Spain. The collection started in 1941, when American millionaire Cummins Catherwood acquired 22 pieces by the artist. He'd designed the jewels on paper and closely supervised Argentinian goldsmith Carlos Alemany, who executed the work. Dalí continued to add to the collection, which passed through the hands of many, including a Saudi millionaire and several Japanese collectors. In 1999, the Salvador Dalí Foundation purchased all 41 jewels, as well as Dalí drawings and paintings of the designs, for €5.5 million (nearly $7 million).

 

 

15. He created a hologram of Alice Cooper.

Though they may seem like an unlikely pairing, Salvador Dalí and musician Alice Cooper had a mutual admiration for one another. Cooper, who was an art student in high school, modeled his early stage shows after the Surrealist painter. When Dalí discovered this, he was impressed. “Dalí’s people rang my manager and explained that he’d seen one of my stadium shows,” Cooper told Another Man. “He said it was like seeing one of his paintings come to life, and that he wanted us to work together.”

Cooper was just 25 years old when he and Dalí met in 1973. The 69-year-old painter arrived with an elaborate entourage and suggested that he create the world's first living hologram—using Cooper as the model. He not only created First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain, but also presented the singer with a sculpture titled The Alice Brain. The ceramic sculpture of a brain had a chocolate eclair running down it and ants that spelled the words “Alice” and “Dalí”.

“I said: ‘That's great, when we’re done can I have it?' ” recalls Cooper. “He said ‘Of course not, it’s worth millions!' I just laughed. He had a great sense of humor but his genius was that you never knew when he was being funny and when he wasn’t.” Cooper and Dalí's encounter remains one of the great artist/musician collaborations in history.

 

16. He illustrated a copy of Alice in Wonderland.

There's no better surreal imagery for Dalí than the equally bizarre tale of Alice in Wonderland. In 1969, Random House asked the artist to illustrate a limited edition of the Lewis Carroll classic and the results are as good are you'd think. Only 2,700 copies were created, but luckily a new reissue ensures that the work will live on. Dalí created 13 designs for the book, one for each chapter and the cover. The work is filled with signature Dalí touches—the iconic melting clock from The Persistence of Memory finds a nice home at the center of the Mad Hatter's tea party.

 

 

17. He built his own museum.

Dalí not only created his own museum, he's also buried there. Located in his hometown of Figueres, the project started in the 1960s when the mayor of the small Catalan town asked Dalí to donate a piece of art to the city museum. Dalí decided to do much more than that, transforming the town's theater—which was nearly destroyed during the Spanish Civil War—into the Dalí Theater and Museum.

The museum officially opened in 1974, but Dalí continued to expand the museum and even lived there during the final years of his life. After his death in 1989, he was buried under the stage of the theater. Today, the museum draws more than 1 million visitors a year, who flock to see the largest collection of Dalí's artwork.

 

18. His trademark mustache remains intact to this day.

In July 2017, Dalí’s body was exhumed as part of a paternity suit brought on by a woman named María Pilar Abel Martínez who claimed to be his daughter. The exhumation proved her wrong, but it did reveal one surreal discovery: The Spanish artist’s mustache still remains perfectly groomed. “I was eager to see him and I was absolutely stunned. It was like a miracle, said Narcis Bardalet, who was in charge of embalming Dalí's body. “His mustache appeared at 10 past 10 exactly and his hair was intact.”

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This article has been edited and updated.

Related Articles:

Quirky Salvador Dalí Doll Includes Interchangeable Mustaches and a Melting Clock

Photographer Recreates Philippe Halsman’s Iconic 1948 “Dalí Atomicus” Image

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10 Revolutionary Art Movements That Have Shaped Our Visual History

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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