Saturday, December 5

No, too Sexy!

I'm not going to get too excited about this because it hasn't been made official yet, but rumor has it there is going to be a reunion.

No, they are not making another Zorro. Sorry to disappoint. But it is something equally, if not more, awesome.

According to IMDB, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are set to reunite onscreen as Salvador Dali and Gala Eduard Dali sometime in 2010. I don't know about Jones, but Antonio is a pretty obvious choice for this role. Not only is he Spanish but he is a dead ringer for Dali. See:

This movie has the potential to be really good. That is, if they don't ruin it by making it more about the Banderas-Jones reunion than about the painter.

Most people know Salvador Dali because of this:

Dali, The Persistence of Time c. 1931

Sadly, this is usually the only painting that gets mentioned in art survey books. I just checked my trusty, 1198 page standby and his section is tiny (like 2 paragraphs). It's just not right. So bear with me, I'm going I tell you a little bit more about Mr. Dali. It may help to explain why they are possibly (fingers crossed) making a major movie about his life.

Salvador Dali was born in 1904 in a small town in the shadow of the Pyrenees mountains, not far from the French border. (The Dali Museum, History) While his career was defined by surrealism, a style that encouraged painting with photographic clarity while exercising almost no rational thought, it is important to point out that Mr. Dali was first and foremost a classically trained artist. In fact, he first gained international success at the age of 24 with a still life, not a surrealist masterpiece.

Salvador Dali, The Basket of Bread c. 1928

By the end of the 1920's Dali was living in Paris and had fully transitioned into surrealism. Works like The Persistence of Time and my personal favorite, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening, helped to make him one of the world's most recognizable artists.

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around
a Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening

c. 1944

*The title alone is a work of art*

In Paris he began to explore different artistic pursuits. He joined the world of high fashion, working on several collections with famed french designer Coco Chanel. The two remained close for decades. Dali's eyes and curly tipped mustache even appeared on the label of a Chanel No. 5 parfume bottle in the mid 1950's.

Dali with Coco Chanel, 1936

As the Germans began to assert control across France at the start of WWII, Dali and his wife Gala fled to the US. (He met her while she was married to her first husband, poet Paul Eluard. It wouldn't be his first affair.) (The Dali Museum, History)

Dali pictured on the set of "Spellbound" 1945

The already world famous, bizarrely mustached Spaniard was an instant Hollywood celebrity. Dali thoroughly enjoyed his American fame, so much in fact that he was often criticized in the art world as being a sell out. He didn't seem to care what the critics had to say.

While in America, he explored a new medium, film. His most famous film work was as set director for Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound," for which he designed the dream sequence had by actor Gregory Peck.

Like most celebrities, he made the rounds on TV talk and game shows, appearing on "What's My Line" and as a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His appearance on "What's My Line" is actually really funny--thanks to YouTube, you can see it in its entirely.

Dali definitely had a flair for rhetoric and was flamboyantly and unapologetically proud of himself. He once declared, "each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali." (Reading that quote, I can't help but think of this scene from Talledega Nights.)

While he did gallivant around Hollywood quite a bit, he never quit painting. Throughout the 40's and into the 50's Dali revisited his classical roots, turning his focus to large history and religious works. He completed his massive Discovery of America By Christopher Columbus in 1959.

Discovery of America By Christopher Columbus c.1959
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL

He and Gala moved back to Spain in the mid 1950's where he painted profusely. Many of his later works point to his return to the Catholic faith.

Dali, Ecumenical Council c. 1960

He passed away on January 23, 1989, at the age of 85. A quick internet search couldn't confirm this, but I believe he is the only artist known to die in his own museum surrounded by his own artwork. I remember a professor mentioning that once...

Dali Theater- Museum, Figures, Spain

Dali was definitely a colorful character and it will be a challenge not to make him out to be a buffoon of sorts. I look forward to seeing if Antonio can pull this off.

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