When you think about this legendary artist, what comes to mind are probably some of his most recognized surrealist works like “The Persistence of Memory”, or “Swans Reflecting Elephants”. But you might be surprised when you find out how many interesting facts about Salvador Dalí are out there. For a man whose life both began and ended in his hometown of Figueres, Catalonia, he touched the whole world with his talent and eccentricity. The artist and his works have been described as a blend of genius and madness, which makes more and more sense the deeper you dive into his long history of bizarre projects and pastimes. If you are a fan of Dalí, keep reading to learn some unique tidbits about his life, and then come visit the Dalí Museum in Figueres to experience some of his greatest visions in person.
1. Dalí Dinner Parties
Dalí and his wife Gala were master hosts when it came to having friends over for dinner. They threw dinner parties unlike any other, with surreal themes and costumes that matched the artist’s eccentric style. Many of them involved live exotic animals roaming the room and unique combinations of food served in unusual ways. For example, food served in shoes or made into big sculptures while the actual serving dishes contained live animals that would crawl around the table once the lid was lifted. Dalí also wrote a cookbook with these one-of-a-kind recipes, called Les Diners de Gala (Gala’s Dinners), after his wife.
2. Dalí X Disney
Throughout his life, Dalí was able to collaborate with other imaginative creators around the world. It makes sense that one of these collaborations would be with the company that runs on imagination: Disney. In 1945, Dalí began working with one of Disney’s head designers at the time, John Hench, to create a 6-minute surrealist short film called “Destino”. He created oil paintings and countless drawings for Hench to create storyboards for the film. Unfortunately, the project had to be abandoned less than a year in due to lack of funds, but Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney resurrected it and finished production in 2003. You can see the finished product here.
3. Ever the Businessman
Unlike many other famous artists, Dalí had no problem taking commercial commissions. He knew how to take advantage of his image and skills in many fields, and was not one to shy away from a business opportunity. He designed ads for big brands like Datsun, GAP, and S.C. Johnson & Co. He also created magazine covers for Town & Country and even Vogue, and also appeared in a few commercials. The logo for the Spanish lollipop brand Chupa Chups was designed by Dalí in 1969, and it is the same one that’s used to this day.
4. Diner Doodles
Speaking of taking advantage of his talents, another interesting fact about Salvador Dalí is that he would get out of paying his restaurant tabs by simply doodling on the backs of his checks while the waiter was watching. The story is that Dalí would take a big group of friends out to dinner and offer to pay for everyone, knowing that there was no way the waiter would cash a check with an original Dalí drawing on it.
5. No drugs here!
Looking at some of Dalí’s work, one might think there were some mind-altering substances being used to come up with such abstract ideas and strange obsessions. Dalí did in fact hallucinate to “access the subconscious”, and spur his imagination in order to create new and meaningful pieces, but he was actually drug-free. The way he made himself hallucinate was by concentrating intently on an object until, in his mind, it took on other forms or meanings. Staying true to his unique brand of course, one of Dalí’s famous quotes on this subject was, “I don’t do drugs, I am drugs.”
Interested in a full dive into Dalí’s world? Check out the Surreal and Cadaqués and All Things Dalí Day Trip.