I Am Not Strange. I Am Just Not Normal: The Surreal World of Salvador Dalí

1966 Salvador Dali photograph by Phillipe HalsmanThis week celebrates the birth of legendary artist Salvador Dalí, father of surrealism and, let’s be honest, darlings, one of the leading oddballs of the 20th century. Born May 11, 1904, Dalí left a legacy in paintings, sculptures, photography, and general wackiness.

“Since I don’t smoke, I decided to grow a mustache – it is better for the health.However, I always carried a jewel-studded cigarette case in which, instead of tobacco, were carefully placed several mustaches, Adolphe Menjou style. I offered them politely to my friends: “Mustache? Mustache? Mustache?”Nobody dared to touch them. This was my test regarding the sacred aspect of mustaches.” 

― Salvador Dalí, Dalí’s Mustache

Salvador Dali, Surrealist PainterBest known for dreamlike landscapes scattered with melting, half-seen figures and rife with optical illusions, Dalí made headlines in his day for all manner of attention-grabbing public antics and eccentricities. He famously delivered a lecture wearing a deep-sea diving suit and helmet, carrying a billiard cue, and leading a pair of Russian wolfhounds, then appeared on The Tonight Show armed with a leather rhinoceros and refused to sit on anything else. To raise funds for European artists displaced by the World War II, Dalí hosted a nightmare-themed surrealist costume party titled Night in a Surrealist Forest and invited half of Hollywood, as seen in the 1941 newsreel below.

Not content to merely paint and sculpt, Dalí was known for his frequent collaborations with other artists, particularly his inspiration of photographer Phillipe Halsman. Together they created a vast collection of whimsically odd photographs, absurd portraits and  farcical still-lifes bursting with vitality, simultaneously capturing the essence of Dalí and the heart of surrealism. Take a look at the gallery below for a few of my favorite deliciously delirious Dalí images.

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.”
― Salvador Dalí

(for more Dalí, see 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Salvidor Dalí on Superficial Gallery)

Related Posts:

I Will Stitch Your Eyelids Shut: The Horror of Ommetaphobia

Death by a Thousand Cuts: Bizarre Li Hongbo Paper Sculpture

Like Something Strange, Undreamt-of: The Nightmare Illustrations of Stephen Gammell

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Categories: Art & Inspiration

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9 replies

  1. I totally would have taken a mustache.

  2. Great pics. I am surprised that some good director hasn’t made a movie about Dali – perhaps a fictional tale that attempts to explain the ideas for his art. If no one else does, one day I will write this story.

    • I hope you do! His story is completely fascinating, right from the start – he was born nine months after the death of his brother (also named Salvador), and his parents fully believed (and frequently told him) that he was his dead brother’s reincarnation.

  3. I love that newsreel : ) I would kill for an invite!

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