It was very difficult to choose only 10 weird things about Salvador Dali. He is widely known as one of the most (the most?) eccentric artists in art history. And that manifests in his art (obviously), difficult character and behavior. Dali was enchanted by things like Freudian psychoanalysis, sadomasochism, fear of castration, tarot reading… But here it is: 10 weird things about Salvador Dali you should know!
1. Dali believed he was the reincarnation of his dead brother
Salvador Dali’s mother gave birth to her first son in 1901, but the poor child died of gastroenteritis at 22 months old. His name was… Salvador. Nine months after the child’s death, the second Salvador was born and named after his late brother.
When Dali was five, his parents took him to the first Salvador’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.
2. He stole a wife from his friend
You can read the story of Dali and Gala here. In August 1929, Dali met the love of his life: Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, better known as Gala. Unfortunately, Gala was already married to the French Surrealist poet Paul Eluard (and also involved in a romance with Max Ernst). But it wasn’t a big problem for Dali and, in the end, Gala married Dali in 1934. Even though she was 10 years older than him, which became an issue at the end of their lives, they would remain together until her death in 1982. Gala became Dali’s muse and business manager, her financial shrewdness supporting his extravagant lifestyle. She was also famous for directing Dali’s business by checking it out in Tarot cards.
3. Dali appeared on What’s My Line?
Dali loved himself.
Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dali.
It sounds a little like Kanye West’s bragging, doesn’t it? Dali was keen to express his polymath qualities during his chaotic appearance on What’s My Line?, answering yes to almost every question and professing to be an athlete, writer, and comic strip artist.
4. Dali had a perverse obsession with Hitler
During the Nazis’ rise, most Surrealists were loudly anti-fascists and against Hitler. Dali, on the other hand, began to paint him. These pieces include The Enigma of Hitler (above) and Hitler Masturbating. Once detailing that he “often dreamed of Hitler as a woman” and that the Nazi dictator “turned [him] on”. Dali was kicked out of the Surrealist group for being a Nazi sympathizer, what he denied. Creepy!
5. Dali loved money so much that he even starred in commercials
Within the art community, Dali was renowned for his love of making money. He was even called “Avida Dollars,” which is both an anagram of Salvador Dali and a signifier of his greed. Dali appeared in ads for Lanvin chocolates, brandy, and even Alka Seltzer – you can watch all of them here.
6. He designed a logo for Chupa Chups
He designed the famous Chupa Chups lollipops logo and the 1969 logo for the Eurovision Song Contest. Nothing to add to this.
7. Dali hosted weekly orgies
Gala encouraged Salvador into an open marriage, which saw the couple host regular orgies. Cher was once invited to his house (along with her ex-husband Sonny and Francis Ford Coppola) while an orgy was ongoing, and detailed that she picked up “a beautiful, painted rubber fish. Just fabulous. It has this little remote-control handset, and I’m playing with it, and the tail is going back and forth, and I’m thinking it’s a child’s toy. So I said to Salvador: ‘This is really funny.’ And he said: ‘It’s wonderful when you place it on your clitoris.’” What’s even more interesting is that, by all accounts, Dali himself didn’t participate in orgies except to watch.
8. Masturbation addiction
For a long time, I experienced the misery of believing I was impotent
Dali wrote in his autobiography. Like many boys his age, he turned to the pleasures of self-gratification. In Dali’s case, however, masturbation became the primary—and perhaps even only—sexual activity he enjoyed throughout his life. In his autobiography, he claimed he kept up the practice well into adult life, often in front of a mirror. Masturbation, nevertheless, filled Dali with fear because it was at the time believed to cause impotence, homosexuality, and insanity.
9. He found deep meaning in cauliflowers
Dali filled up a white Rolls Royce Phantom II with 500kg of cauliflowers and drove it from Spain to Paris in December 1955. The reasoning was, he later told an audience of 2,000, that “everything ends up in the cauliflower!” Three years later, he explained to American journalist Mike Wallace that he was attracted to their “logarithmic curve.”
10. He had a lot of famous friends
Dali had a lot of famous friends and hung out with Elvis Presley, John Lennon, David Bowie, Pablo Picasso, and even Sigmund Freud. But probably his weirdest acquaintance was rock legend Alice Cooper. He became fascinated by his stage show, which was partly inspired by Dali’s work. Dali gave Cooper a plaster sculpture of his brain, crowned by a chocolate eclair with real ants running down the middle—and then asked Cooper to model for him. Cooper ended up doing so under armed guard since he was wearing a $2 million diamond tiara provided by Dali. At the end of it, Dali had created an amazing revolving hologram of Cooper covered in diamonds and biting the head of a Venus de Milo statuette. He accomplished this by using lasers to capture a three-dimensional image.