Salvador Dalí’s Memories of Surrealism

Salvador Dalí’s Memories of Surrealism

Salvador Dalí’s Memories of Surrealism suite of photo-lithographs was published by Transworld Art in 1971 and expresses Dalí’s reflections of his journey into surrealist art. The detailed artworks are based on original gouache paintings with collage and bestow Dalinian symbolism.

Pierre Restany, a French art critic, interviewed Salvador Dalí about each of the Memories of Surrealism prints. The text appears out of order on printed introductory pages to accompany the photo-lithographs. In Pierre Restany and Salvador Dalí’s words, the artworks are described below.


A tribute to the Spanish architect Emilio Piñero whose geodesical dome is designed to protect the most surrealistic of all genetic structures discovered so far. (The dome is that of the Dali Museum at Figueras.) This genetic discovery has been made by two Nobel Prize winners, Crick, an Englishman and Watson, an American biologist: the double helix is an anticipated representation of nothing less than continuity between heaven and earth in Jacob’s ladder, based on molecular structures of desoxyribonucelical acid—but perhaps, and even probably also of the structures that are going to defeat, in an ultrasurrealistic way, the flood of cancer on our earth.


In the text of picture 8 we refer to the famous stork leg. Now in order to make it legitimate and monumental I shall proceed to give it a shape; not the shape of a crutch but of a true stork leg in the legs of the famous Dalinian elephant. This can only be a true Triumphal Arch, since Boulle, the great cabinet maker of Louis XIV, had always thought that he should erect this elephant, which, thanks to Dali, will forever have stork legs, in the exact place of the present Arc de Triomphe in Paris, built from Chalgrin’s plans, dedicated on July 29, 1836, etc. (After a mile of prose on the Arc de Triomphe, full stop.)


He does not hold back his laughter since this is nothing but a poster and posters are the most serious epitomes of the objective amalgams of the ideas of our time. The angel of melancholy will obviously remain melancholy with its black wings but the picture itself is like a piece of gruyere cheese in an advanced state of putrefaction, or rather like a roquefort cheese as painted by Valdès Léal in the “Triumph of the Cross” at the Charity Hospital in Sevilla, or in the “Two Corpses”. Valdès Léal, painter, sculptor, engraver and architect was born and died in Sevilla, 1622-1690; he has, with constant complacency, pictured the most repulsive horrors of death: thanks to this poster he is sure to become one of the foremost surrealistic figures with the help of Mr. Rosenberg who wants to publish it. The work is now ready, it is the sweet at the end of the meal; a tribute to Juan Valdès Nica Léal who said that life is a bitter experience: death, after all, is only perhaps a sweet experience.


Let this be quite clear today: I am not only a first-class plagiarist, but also one of the first thieves, just like the God Mercury who was chief of the thieves. Lest anyone say that I am dishonest to the people I rob, let it be known by all, according to the tradition of the legitimate kings, that I hereby declare that all I am doing is a repetition of the appropriation process, which is not achieved by Marcel Duchamp in his ready-made, but that of Louis XIV, when at the most glorious time of his reign, he said: “L’État c’est Moi”. (Some information on Louis XIV, the Great: called Dieudonné—Heaven-sent—for his birth had been awaited 23 years, son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, he was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1638, was king of France from 1643 to 1715 and died in Versailles. He was not yet five when he succeeded his father under the regency of this mother and the ministry of Mazarin. In 1661, after Mazarin’s death, Louis XIV announced to the Council of Ministers that he intended to rule by himself from then on: “L’État c’est Moi”.)


The picture which is the origin of this sort of glorious and delirious collage is exactly called “Assumpta corpuscularia lapis lazulina”, and yesterday morning at 11p.m.—you will notice that I always say yesterday morning at 11 p.m. so that nobody should think my watches work like any other watches—I had the genial intuition which is going to enlighten you about nuclear physics. The true anti-protonic forces can only be seen through the action of neutrinos. Everybody knows, and has learned in school, since this is elementary nuclear physics, that neutrinos have no atomic weight, nor any substance of any kind. The only thing they have, and they are the only ones to have it, is this marvelous thing called “spin”, a rotary energy force, and this is why, instead of making everything revolve, I give it anti-protonic verticality.


Minerva is the opposite of a grass-hopper, and my enemy, my phobia is the hopper. For hoppers, “cavalettti”, are like the “cavali”, the wild boars that are hunted, and in respect of which Nietsche recommended that they be killed so that Dionysios can be changed into Apollo: thus by killing the grass-hopper or the boar you can reach the Goddess of intelligence. The Emperor Trajan was a great hunter of wild boars; he killed them with a lance as you can see on the medals in Rome, and so did Philip IV of Spain. The same sort of hunting was practiced in the time of Velasquez, as he proved when he painted “Tela Real”, the Royal Canvass which is in the National Gallery in London (and on which one can write several immortal pages of surrealistic literature).


If you wish to attract bombyx moths, all you have to do is to hang into your bedroom, your dining room or anywhere else, the tail of a cod. Fifteen minutes later there come the moths which are those the divine Dali brought to the ball given by the Baron de Rédé. The moths were still in their little silk cocoons and had been supplied by Mao Tse Tung’s embassy in Paris; they were supposed to hatch at exactly the time the Baron would have opened the ball. This unfortunately did not happen due to a mistake on the part of the specialist who had calculated the time at which the cocoons would open. If the hatching had taken place at the right time, the Baron’s palace would have been completely full of bombyx moths; this would have been the greatest surrealistic happening of the century. I immediately informed Mr. Rosenberg in New York, by telephone; from the other side of the Atlantic he sent me a cable saying: ‘Bombyx, bombyx, bravo, bravo, bravo!’.


This surrealistic object originates in the Dalinian motto: when you pretend to leave in the memory of the aristocratic society, dear to our hearts, an almost unperishable recollection, the best advice you can get is this one: when you are still very, very young, preferably in your teens, kick, as strongly as you can the right leg of the person you love, that is to say of the aristocrat who can help you in life. This aristocrat will say “Ouch!” and will raise his right leg and therefore stand in the precarious position of a stork, since storks stand on one leg. Just at that time Salvador Dali will turn up hypocritically, according to the manners of the Company of Jesus and the theories of St. Ignatius of Loyola, carrying a crutch so that the aristocrat will not fall. So, first a strong kick in the aristocratic leg, then as soon as the aristocrat has become one-legged, Dali rushes in, double faced as ever, bringing the famous crutch in its sheath. (This text can be repeated as many times as you wish and as slowly as possible so that the aristocrat, whilst remaining slightly grateful for not having been thrown to the ground, will remember for the rest of his life having been kicked by Salvador Dali as a young man.)


Dali has chosen Georges de Latour’s painting, which represents a new born child carried under the light of a candle with a luxury of precautions, for a very definite reason: to show that it is with the same delicate care that one should deal with the Great Question, the most transcendental of the super-Einsteinian era, of Albert Einstein, at first super-gelatinous, then Freudian and finally Dalinian, in the direction of the explosive legitimacy of everything looking terribly soft and peaceful.


Films will be completely out in five years. Out, firstly, because nothing good has ever come out of them, except—perhaps—“Le Chien Andalou” which I made and which could have been given to those who would have liked to work a feeling of continuity. Then, and above all, because now exists the ‘video-cassette’ which I just received as a gift from Mr. Rosenberg. Just as squires, at some point, had their homecorpse, they can now own their home-video-cassette; with this they will be able to make their own pseudo- artistic shit and will no longer require film studios, for it is unthinkable, that in order to produce shit one should should have to go through film studios. People will produce their shit every morning without a script, without a photographer, without anything. With video-cassettes, the world will become a monumental garbage dump, where everyone will be able to relieve oneself at ease without any need to go to the movies.


A tribute to Guy de Maupassant: one of his short stories has always been my favorite. You all remember it. It is the one of the baker with a temperature of 102, I believe, and his wife has put some eggs under his armpits for him to brood. Because of the high fever, there is a wonderful moment when the bed is full of little chickens emerging from the unfortunate baker’s armpits: the man is dying in a state of extreme satisfaction, the creative heat of his armpits filling the room with a sweat odour. And this, in addition, at a time when surely hormones did not exist. All the little chickens are running behind you gloriously. The same with all the vegetating surrealistic little lice which I have brooded under my own armpits.


The first idea I ever had about the Eye of Time. I know it well: with it I made a jewel for the Owen R. Cheatham Foundation. A jewel representing a large eye, and in its pupil you can see the wheel-work of a clock and the lens which must preferably belong to someone who has never drunk any liquor, for the bottom must be blueish and pure, like an aquamarine, without the stigma of a liver complaint. The hands on the clock dial move in slow motion, because liver complaints accelerate the pulse of life, as Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus, proved in his book on the combustion of stomachs (one could devote, at this juncture, ten pages to Paracelsus, the father of hermetic medicine, born in Einsiedeln, Switzerland in 1493 and who died in Salzburg, Austria in 1541, to his doctrine of correspondences between the outside world and the various parts of the human body; especially to the combustion of stomachs).

Salvador Dalí’s Memories of Surrealism suite is on display on the lower floor of dAda mUse from September to November 2023.

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