By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dalí Historian
Like the weather, Dalí is hot, hot, hot!
Have you noticed how Salvador Dalí is turning up just about everywhere these days? There’s a major feature biopic in production now about the Master, titled DalíLand, with Ben Kingsley playing Dalí in his later years, along with Leslie Manville as Gala and Tim Roth as Captain Peter Moore.
Meanwhile, there’s developing news out of Australia, which is on the cusp of funding the permanent acquisition of Mirage, the wonderful Dalí painting that was one of a trilogy he was commissioned to create to promote Desert Flower perfume in 1946. Mirage is on indefinite loan to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, pending completion of a special fund-raising campaign to land the work permanently – the one and only Salvador Dalí painting on that continent. And, boy, are they fortunate: it’s truly one of the most beautiful works Dalí ever painted.
From the nostalgia files come two most interesting projects making headlines – sort of. One is somewhat in doubt, or at least interminably delayed, it appears. I’m talking about a book that was supposed to be published months ago (in fact, the original publishing date was Dec. 23, 2016!), dealing with the sensational surrealist party Salvador and Gala Dalí threw in 1941, while they were living at the Del Monte Lodge in Pebble Beach, California, during the war. The bash was a fund-raiser for refugee artists.
The book, Dalí’s 1941: Salvador Dalí’s Surrealist Ball, Through the Lens of Julian P. Graham (Paul Skellett and Simon Weitzman, authors; Foreword by Zak Sloman) is to feature primarily photographs taken by a friend of Dalí, which captured both the celebrity-attended party and pre-party preparations, showing Dalí and Gala being fitted for their outrageous costumes.
But now amazon has announced to those of us who’d pre-ordered the book that in fact it will not be available through them and we should look for it through other channels. Hmmmm. This kind of confusion would actually fill Dalí with glee!
Salad Days: A ‘Lost Classic, Here at Last!’
Meanwhile, reaching even further back is a surprising development in connection with a never-realized, zany screenplay cooked up by Salvador Dalí for the Marx Brothers. The film’s curious title was Giraffes on Horseback Salad, but it was rejected by, I think, MGM.
According to Wikipedia, the film was to be a love story between a Spanish aristocrat named Jimmy (played by Harpo Marx, with whom Dalí had a keen friendship) and a “beautiful surrealist woman, whose face is never seen by the audience.”
The screenplay was thought to be lost, but it was recently found and has now been reimagined in book form – a surrealist graphic novel, adapted by screenwriter Josh Frank. With the story by Frank comes adaptation with Tim Heidecker and illustrations by Manuela Pertega. The cover says it all: “The Strangest Movie Never Made!” The book reportedly comes out in November. I hope it’s as much fun as the cover!
Poetry in Dalí-Motion
Far less strange is the just-published book of poetry, Dalí: In Verse, by British author Sarah Hobbs.
Yours truly was flattered to have been asked to write the Foreword to the book, as Dalí historian with The Salvador Dalí Society® of Torrance, California, (though I’m actually based in Buffalo, New York). It’s a wonderful book for those who dig Dalí and the unique insights that poetry allows.
(Images used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes only)