4 Bizarre Facts About Salvador Dali & The Royal Heart
1, Dali’s Inspiration
Looking at Dali’s paintings, you might suspect that they were the result of heavy psychotropic drug use. Yet, Dali famously stated, “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” So where did he get his inspiration if not from drugs? Well, Dali had some tricks for making himself more creative. One involved a tin plate and spoon. Dali would sit in a chair holding the spoon above the plate and doze off. As he fell asleep, the spoon would drop onto the plate, making a noise loud enough to wake the artist in time to jot down the surreal images he saw in his dreams.
Other times, Dali would stand on his head until he almost passed out, allowing him to become semi-lucid. Dali’s most famous technique was called the “Paranoiac-Critical Method.” This involved trying to create a self-induced paranoid state, allowing him to draw irrational relationships between unconnected objects and to depict the landscape of his own subconscious mind.
2, He Believed He Was The Reincarnation Of His Dead Brother
One possible explanation for Dali’s bizarre lifestyle may lie with his peculiar childhood. Before Dali was born, his mother had given birth to another child, also called Salvador Dali. Unfortunately, the first Salvador died of a stomach infection at just 22 months old. Nine months later, the second Salvador Dali was born. Since the second Salvador heavily resembled the first and had been born exactly nine months later, his parents began to harbor a suspicion that he was actually their dead child reborn.
When Dali was five, his parents took him tothe first Salvdador's grave and informed him of their belief that he was the reincarnation of his own dead brother. This had a huge psychological effect on Dali—much of his later work would contain allusions to the dead child he believed was the best part of him. The traumatic experience may also help explain some bizarre events that happened that same year . . .
3, His Weird Fascination With Hitler
Dali was obsessed with Hitler in a way that even Hitler would probably have found unsettling. During the Nazi’s rise, most surrealist artists sought to distance themselves from fascism and Hitler. Dali, on the other hand, began to paint him. One painting of Dali’s which at first appears to be a landscape is actually a photograph of Hitler turned on its side and made to look like a placid lake. Later, when asked about his fascination with Hitler, Dali said: “I often dreamed about Hitler as other men dreamed about women.”
In case you’re thinking this couldn’t get any creepier, don’t worry, it does. Dali went on to say: “Hitler turned me on in the highest…His [Hitler’s] fat back, especially when I saw him appear in the uniform with the Sam Browne belt and shoulder straps that tightly held in his flesh, aroused in me a delicious gustatory thrill originating in the mouth and affording me a Wagnerian ecstasy.” One of Dali’s later paintings is simply called Hitler Masturbating and, sadly, there’s nothing surreal about the name—it shows exactly that. Thankfully, Hitler’s manhood is largely hidden behind some tiny horses with metal legs.
4, Dali Atomicus
The result of a collaboration between Dali and famous photographer Philippe Halsman, Dali Atomicus is an ode to Dali’s famous painting Leda Atomica (which can be seen on the right of the photo). The photo shows Dali, furniture, and several cats suspended in mid-air while a stream of water snakes through the action like a deleted scene from Inception. It’s an amazing picture, considering it was made in 1948, long before CGI and Photoshop could have created the effect.
Instead, the picture was created the old-fashioned way—it’s all real. In order to achieve the effect, the furniture was held up by wires while Dali jumped and someone out of the frame hurled a bucket of water and several live cats into the shot. Unfortunately, the desired effect couldn’t be achieved in one take, or even two. It had to be done a staggering total of 28 times. Bear in mind that after each shot, some poor person (most likely the ’40s equivalent of an intern) would have had to round up the scattered, terrified cats, then throw them at the camera again.
The Royal Heart
Despite eccentricity that sometimes bordered on complete and utter lunacy, Dali was a genius. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Dali Joies, a collection of jewelry designed by Dali in collaboration with an American millionaire named Cummins Catherwood. The wealthy Catherwood supplied millions of dollars’ worth of precious stones, which Dali incorporated into a number of exquisite pieces. Using Dali’s designs, the collection was produced in New York under the supervision of Argentinean silversmith Carlos Alemany. In total, 39 pieces were made, subsequently changing hands numerous times before finally being sold to the Salvador Dali Foundation for 5.5 million euros (nearly $7 million) in 1999.
The central piece is The Royal Heart. Crafted from pure gold and encrusted with an amazing 46 rubies, 42 diamonds, and two emeralds, the most amazing thing about The Royal Heart is the unsettling way it actually beats like a live human heart. Be warned: The video above may give you nightmares.
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