The Truth About Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí Photographed in 1946 | PC: Phillipe Halsman

Salvador Dalí Photographed in 1946 | PC: Phillipe Halsman

Memento Artem


Salvador Dalí is often regarded as a famous and eccentric surrealist painter. He’s most often remembered by the melting clocks from his painting “The Persistence of Memory” or the elephants with extremely long legs from “The Elephants.” Although these paintings are tame, Dalí is not. In fact, there are reasons why the famed author George Orwell addressed Dalí as “a disgusting human being,” but an artist of “exceptional gifts.”

Dalí created a brand for himself that gained him immense fame. He would host extravagant surrealist themed parties where people would dress in wild costumes and food was presented in an ethereal way.

The who’s who of high-society attended these parties, which allowed him to create a network of influential contacts. In the 30s, Dalí collaborated with Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli to produce surrealist inspired clothing. He also created a line of jewelry with Duke Fulco di Verdura which met tremendous success.

Additionally, he created a line of home decor items––flike the renowned lip sofa. Dalí climbed the social ladder with each collaboration and party, further gaining him fame and recognition––fueling his ego and lining his wallet.

Aside from gaining power and influence in society, there was a darker side of Dalí. He was fascinated with Hitler. Dalí reportedly said, “There was no reason for me to stop telling one and all that to me Hitler embodied the perfect image of the great masochist who would unleash a world war solely for the pleasure of losing and burying himself beneath the rubble.” The painting he mentioned was “The Weaning of Furniture-Nutrition,” in which the nurse originally had a swastika armband which Dalí’s surrealist peers forced him to remove.

His very public fascination of Hitler and disdain of communism caused him some trouble. Dalí’s fellow surrealist artists, who were mostly communists, didn’t take kindly to Dalí’s love of Hitler. Additionally in, “The Enigma of William Tell,” Dalí portrayed Lenin in a vulnerable and compromising position. The combination of these enraged the surrealists and, in 1934, they put him on “trial” and excommunicated him from the group and movement. Dalí responded, “I myself am surrealism.” How humble.

Later, Dalí painted a hugely controversial piece entitled, “The Enigma of Hitler.” In it, a tiny portrait of Hitler can be seen among other symbolic items. He gave recognition to one of the most evil men in history.

Dalí may have very well been one of the most talented artists in history. But his talent doesn’t negate his problematic nature and repulsive character.

Cameron Cizek is a senior studying computing.