By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dalí Historian
Dalí the influencer…where to begin? Salvador Dalí has influenced, well, just about everything. There are so many areas of culture and society on which his extraordinary creativity has left its mark. It’s dizzying.
One of today’s pop culture icons – the often unpredictable and flamboyant singer/musician Lady Gaga – is an unabashed Dalí aficionado, clearly influenced by the Master. Here’s an interesting photo of her sprouting Dalínian rhino horns! Like Dalí, she knows how to knock the world off-balance.
Of course, there can be no question that Gaga’s piano on skyscraper legs was inspired by Dalí’s iconic gravity-defying elephants, where the animal’s normal limbs are supplanted by truly outrageous mile-high flamingo legs!
Stop and think about it. So many of the very successful musical artists became so because they adopted a kind of surrealist pose, a sense of outrageousness. Elton John, for example, who, in his beginning years as a performer, donned spectacularly trippy, over-the-top outfits, glasses and headgear. Go way back to pianist Liberace; his flamboyant capes with luxurious collars – and his signature candelabra atop his piano – helped make him a star in his day.
And, as already mentioned, Lady Gaga, whose taste for surrealist leanings was famously displayed in her now iconic “meat dress.” Didn’t Dalí put meat on the shoulder of Gala in a certain 1930s painting? Why yes, yes he did.
Lady Gaga also posed for the paparazzi sporting a bit of upper-lip hair of the handlebar mustache variety. And wearing a “soft” outfit that is surrealist and Dalínian.Wonder where those ideas came from.
What’s absolutely key with such artists is that they have backed up the attention-getting hi-jinx with undeniable talent. Just as, behind Dalí’s publicity-seeking antics, lay an artistic talent second to no one of his time.
Funny enough, cartoonists have long enjoyed using the mustache and mystique of Dalí to help make readers laugh. Here are a couple examples for your amusement.
Dalí influenced the world of advertising in a big way. Marketers loved – and still do – the surreal tableau and “soft” vibe that have helped them sell all manner of commercial goods.
Sometimes things got a bit controversial, such as when DuPont ran a magazine ad years back that too-closely emulated the famous photo collaboration, Dalí Atomicus, between the painter and photographer Philippe Halsman. As I recall it, the Halsman estate ended up suing DuPont for copyright infringement.
Dalí also influenced fashion, and from Oct. 18, 2017 to Jan. 14 of this year, the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida mounted an interesting exhibition demonstrating Dalí’s influence on fashion icon Elsa Schiaparelli’s haute couture gowns, accessories and more. Not to mention a spate of wrist watches whose misshapen dials owe to The Persistence of Memory.
Even outdoor wall artists couldn’t resist brightening up large, dull spaces with things Dalíesque.
Dalí’s cinema work, perhaps most especially his famous dream sequence in Selznick’s and Hitchcock’s Spellbound, doubtlessly influenced generations of film makers and videographers, most prominently in the music video genre. Countless numbers of music videos have been shaped by the dreamscapes and surrealist inventions of Salvador Dalí.
When, on those peculiar occasions when people admit they don’t know who Salvador Dalí was, I simply tell them he was an oil painter, watercolorist, etcher, lithographer, engraver, sculptor, poet, orator, film-maker, book illustrator, movie and theater set designer, costume designer, textile designer, librettist, author, novelist, performance artist, game show guest, and genius. Among other things.
And talent that influenced everything.
(Images used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes only)