Monday, 13 August 2007

Two Spaniards

Salvador Dali in his studio at Port Lligat in 1951 with his painting Christ of St John of the Cross and Pablo Picasso with a vast carving of a goat outside his villa in Cannes in 1955.

While Franco ruled Spain, Picasso remained in exile; Dali didn’t care, and carried on doing his thing. Or rather, various colourful things. James Thurber, quoting The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (written by Dali, with paintings by Dali and photographs of Dali) noted some vignettes which give the flavour of the book:


…the youthful dreamer of dreams biting a sick bat or kissing a dead horse, the slender stripling going into man’s estate with the high hope of one day eating a live but roasted turkey, the sighing lover covering himself with goat dung and aspic that he might give off the true and noble odour of the ram… Salvador kicking a tiny playmate off a bridge, Salvador breaking the old family doctor’s glasses with a leather-thonged mattress-beater…
There was, in Dali’s home town of Figueras, a family of artists named Pitchot, all of whom adored the ground the enfant terrible walked on. If one of them came upon him throwing himself from a high rock—a favourite relaxation of our hero—or hanging by his feet with his head immersed in a pail of water, the wild news was spread about the town that greatness and genius had come to Figueras. There was a woman who put on a look of maternal interest when Salvador threw rocks at her. A mayor of the town fell dead one day at Salvador’s feet. A doctor in the community (not the one he had horsewhipped) was seized of a fit and attempted to beat him up.


Thurber added “The contention that the doctor was out of his senses at the time of the assault is Dali’s, not mine.”

2 comments:

GAY BIPOLAR GUY said...

Thurber on Dali? Now, that's an interesting combo!

Tony said...

Absolutely. The piece is called The Secret Life of James Thurber and was anthologised in The Thurber Carnival and elsewhere…

“...Let me be the first to admit that the naked truth about me is to the naked truth about Salvador Dali as an old ukulele in the attic is to a piano in a tree, and I mean a piano with breasts. Señor Dali has the jump on me from the beginning. He remembers and describes in detail what it was like in the womb. My own earliest memory is of accompanying my father to a polling booth in Columbus, Ohio, where he voted for William McKinley. It was a drab and somewhat battered tin shed set on wheels, and it was filled with guffawing men and cigar smoke; all in all, as far removed from the paradisiacal placenta of Salvador Dali’s first recollection as could well be imagined….”