Dali is a superb draughtsman. Some years ago I visited the Dali Universe, County Hall, London. This 3,000 square metre space housed sculptures, (1935 -1984), lithographs, drawings and wonderful furniture inspired by Dali: gold and glass objects and even copies of the famous lobster telephone and the Mae West lips sofa!
There were no major paintings on display, apart from the oil he did for Hitchcock’s ‘1945 film ‘Spellbound‘. I took great delight in looking through Dali’s drawings which are simply exquisite and show not only his draughtsmanship skills, but how exacting and precise his execution of drawing was. His imagination may have been wild, but his skills struck me as very honed and precise, not something I associate with Surrealism. Surreal, I know!
Dali loved wild animals. His favorite pet was a wildcat, an Ocelot, called Babou whom he would take to restaurants, tethering the animal to a table and causing alarm to fellow diners.
The surreal image below shows Dali emerging from the Paris underground taking two Anteaters for a walk (1969). Andre Breton, (Founder of the Surrealist movement) who was known as ‘le tamanoir’ – ‘the anteater’) used this image as bookplates for several books and Dali was to depict the style of the anteater in his famous 1929 painting ‘The Great Masturbator’
One of Dali’s famous stunts was staged at London’s International Surrealist Exhibition, 1936 when he gave a lecture whilst wearing a deep-sea diving suit. He very nearly suffocated. His wild exaggerated gestures were mistaken for his usual amusing form of eccentricity. Luckily for him a poet, David Gascoyne rescued Dali – with a spanner!
A mysterious fire broke out in the artist’s bedroom in 1984, fortunately Dali was rescued by a friend, Robert Descharnes. Dali was returned his beloved Figueres , Spain (his birthplace), where his friends and artists looked after him. In November 1988 he went to hospital with heart failure. On 23rd January 1989, the artist died of heart failure at the age of 84. He is buried in the crypt in his Teatro Museo in Figueres, much loved and much admired by most artists and non artists alike.
For historical characters with unusual pets here
Here’s some stuff you might not know about Dali here