10 Curious Facts To Celebrate Salvador Dalí’s Birthday

He was working on a sequel to Disney's 'Fantasia' and believed in reincarnation.

Edward Pfizenmaier, Salvador Dali
Edward Pfizenmaier, Salvador Dalí, 1964
Photo: artnet

The legend that is Salvador Dalí was born on this day in 1904 so in celebration of his birthday here are 10 things you may not know about the surrealist master.

1. Robert Pattinson played him in a movie
Of all the unlikely people to play Salvador Dalí, Twilight star Robert Pattinson has got to be up there but he starred as a young Dalí alongside Spanish actor Javier Beltrán Andreu as the poet Federico García Lorca and Matthew McNulty as Luis Bunuel in the film Little Ashes. Released in 2008 to highly mixed reviews the film centers on the young men’s time at university as Dalí and Lorca get to know themselves and discover a love for each other.

 

Pilar Abel and Salvador DaliPhoto via: NY Daily News and the Telegraph

Pilar Abel and Salvador Dali
Photo via: NY Daily News and the Telegraph

2. He may, or may not, have a daughter
Astrologist and Tarot reader Pilar Abel has long been trying to prove that she is the daughter of Salvador Dalí (see Spanish Psychic Pilar Abel Files Suit Claiming to Be the Daughter of Salvador Dalí).

She claims that he and her mother had an illicit affair in 1955, resulting in her birth in 1956. Dalí was married to his muse Gala at the time with whom he never had children.

Following inconclusive DNA tests using the artist’s death mask Pilar Abel is now in the process of trying to have Dalí’s body exhumed in order to prove that he is indeed her father.

Philippe Halsman, Salvador Dalí (1954), and Sandro Miller's version with John Malkovich.

Philippe Halsman, Salvador Dalí (1954), and Sandro Miller’s version with John Malkovich.
Photo: artnet

3. John Malkovich once posed as Dalí
The wonderfully eccentric John Malkovich was the subject of a series of portraits by the artist Sandro Miller. The project saw him recreate many famous images from the history of photography including Diane Arbus’s Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967), and Philippe Halsman’s classic portrait, Salvador Dalí, 1954.

4. He once collaborated with Walt Disney
When thinking of the unbridled and often dark imagination of Salvador Dalí one would not immediately think of Walt Disney as a likely collaborator. But in 1945, he approached Dalí in an effort make a follow-up to the controversial and surreal film, Fantasia.

Sadly the project, Destino, was shelved but was brought to life in 2003 by Disney’s nephew Roy as a six-minute short film.

5. Dalí Draws a Crowd
The 2013 exhibition Dalí which was shown at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and then travelled to the Reina Sofia in Madrid drew the highest number of visitors of any exhibition in Europe that year. Combined, the two exhibits attracted 1,522,429 visitors.

6. Dalí had been here before
Dalí is known for his taste for the macabre and this might have been partly due to the fact that his parents were convinced that he was the reincarnation of his brother (also named Salvador) who passed away on October 12th almost exactly nine months before he was born on May 11th, 1904.

Dalí was convinced of this and drew many portraits of his dead brother throughout his career including the painting Portrait of My Dead Brother (1963).

7. He knew how to give back
Never one to do things in a half-baked way, when promoting his book, The World of Salvador Dalí, in 1962, Dalí gave away a free record of his vital signs with every book.

He appeared at an in-store signing in Manhattan in bed, hooked up to a medical device that recorded his brain waves and blood pressure. Attendees received the record of his vitals at the time of signing their book.

Salvador Dali, Les Diners de Gala Photo via: Ebay

Salvador Dali, Les Diners de Gala
Photo via: Ebay

8. He brought Surrealism into the kitchen
A food lover, Dalí exhibited sculptures draped in fresh seafood as part of the 1939 World Fair in New York. He also published a cookbook in 1973, entitled Les Diners de Gala, which indulged his childhood dream of becoming a chef (see A copy of Les Diners de Gala appeared on Ebay recently).

The extensively illustrated book contains a chapter on aphrodisiacs and includes a recipe for a “Casanova Cocktail.”

9. Avida Dollars!
It may not surprise you to learn that Dalí, who was nicknamed “Avida Dollars” (eager for dollars) by a catty Andre Breton, painted the most expensive Surrealist painting of all time. Dalí’s portrait of his friend the surrealist poet Paul Eluard sold for $22.4 million dollars in 2011, making it the most expensive Surrealist painting in the world.

 10. He had more than a taste for theater
Dalí collaborated with the legendary Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo contributing costumes, backdrops and programs for their productions. The groundbreaking dance company, in existence from 1909-1929, also collaborated with Picasso, Matisse, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli.


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