Paintings of melting clocks, swans reflected as elephants and a lobster-handled telephone sculpture. Such pieces are the work of renowned celebrity artist, sculptor and self-promoting ad-man, May-born, Salvador Dalí (1904-1989).
As a young man, Spanish-born Dalí (pictured above by Carl Von Vechten, 1939) moved to Paris to join the surrealist movement founded in the 1920s by the artist, Breton. They later fell out for political reasons and more, and Dalí moved to the US. However, it was Dalí who became the movement’s most well-known representative.
Dalí’s dreamlike work, inspired by the Austrian psychoanalyst, Freud, was considered by the era’s bourgeoisie to be vulgar and disturbing. Yet it was precisely this controversy that Dalí sought. He used recognisable and somewhat relatable people and objects in his work but distorted them in such a way that it encouraged mainstream audiences to look at the world from a shifted perspective. Dalí firmly believed dreams and imagination to be central to humanity, and this shaped his passion to challenge social norms.
With his meticulously groomed moustache and outrageous love of pranks (not to mention his love of the limelight), Dalí was quite a character. Living in America, he had no qualms about declaring his love of money and saving his own dollars whenever he could. He was notoriously-known for inviting large groups of friends out to dinner but when it was time for him to pay the hefty bill, he would write a cheque, scribble a sketch on the back and relax in the knowledge that no restaurateur would cash a cheque depicting his artistry! On other occasions he sold off 40,000 sheets of paper with nothing on them but his own autograph for 10 dollars apiece. Once he even turned up to give a lecture in a Rolls Royce crammed-full of cauliflower.
He had many famous friends over his lifetime, including Elvis Presley and John Lennon, and influenced pop artists such as Andy Warhol. And though today his galleried works are globally-revered, I’ve no doubt that he would be just as pleased to know that the lollipop-brand Chupa Chups still use the logo he designed for them back in 1969.
Salvador Dalí continues to influence pop culture: Lady Gaga, Joss Stone and The Eurythmics are but a few modern music artists who have taken inspiration from his works at one time or another and some argue that it’s actually Dalí’s famous moustache currently trending on posters and coffee mugs!
But whether he’s your cup of tea or not, it is fair to say Salvador Dalí’s legacy of bringing modern art to the masses continues on.
Deborah is a freelance writer with an appetite for travel, books and blue cheese. She has worked in colleges and universities in the UK and Australia and also resided in Hong Kong and the UAE. Deborah is a flexible learning enthusiast, who achieved her arts degree majoring in Communications and Sociology through distance learning.