Count Pier Francesco Orsini (Google auto-translate) was a man much given to melancholy. The premature death of his wife, Giulia Farnese, and other troubles contributing to the decay of the once proud Orsini dynasty, darkened his outlook on life. Like the world-hating Jacques in Shakespeare's As You Like It, he seems to have come to regard the world around him with a somewhat self-advertising disgust. Orsini retreated noisily from the world of human affairs into nature, albeit a nature much improved by art (Google books preview). Those improvements came in the form of larger-than-life sculptures, some sculpted in the bedrock, which populated Sacro Bosco ("Sacred Grove"), colloquially called Parco dei Mostri ("Park of the Monsters"). [more inside]
In 1959, iconic Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí agreed to design several holiday greeting cards for Hallmark, "with several stipulations. He asked for $15,000 [$122,200 in 2014 dollars] in cash in advance for 10 greeting card designs, with no suggestions from Hallmark for the subject or medium, no deadline and no royalties." [more inside]
In the mid-1940s, surrealist artist Salvador Dali began collaborating with Walt Disney on a short film. The idea was fully storyboarded and an 18 second test animation was completed by Disney animator John Hench. Soon after, the idea was shelved due to a changing of focus with Disney Feature Animation. Almost 60 years later, Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney (with consultation from the now 95-year old Hench) spearheaded an effort to finish the film. In 2003, the finished product, "Destino", premiered. [more inside]
Giovanni Battista d'Antonio Braccelli was a Florentine artist (PDF*) who was active from 1616 to 1649, and is little known beyond some highly creative works. Finding details on his life can be more difficult due to multiple forms for his names (Giovanbatista, Bracelli, Braccielli, Brazzè, and the nickname "il Bigio" - the gray one) within his own work and secondary sources, and early writers conflated his biography with that of a Genoese painter of the same name. But if you enjoy surreal illustrations, check out Braccelli's Bizzarie di varie figure (online view from Gallica - Bibliothèque nationale de France; online and PDF in the US Library of Congress collection** from Lessing J. Rosenwald). [more inside]
Viktor Safonkin is an artist who classifies his style as Eurosurrealism, and could be considered more in line with Hieronymus Bosch than Salvador Dalí. Fantastic Visions has more on the artist and some of his art, and you can see a simple gallery of images without titles or details on the Art Odyssey blog. A more complete gallery of work is on Safonik's Facebook page. You can also watch a short (9 min.) film exhibited at the Viktor Safonkin`s expozition in St. Petersburg's Russian Museum. [more inside]
Salvador Dali's Dream of Venus, one of the earliest full-scale art installation pieces, raised some eyebrows at the 1939 World's Fair. Visitors entered beneath the spread legs of a woman in high heels to find a grotto featuing Venus, a topless sleeping actress on a red satin bed surrounded by lobsters and champagne bottles. Her dream, visible through the nearby window, included cavorting (again topless) mermaids flapping their rubber fins and playing a woman-shaped piano. Murry Korman took many iconic photos of the spectacle. What few knew was that Dali was engaged in a battle of creative crontol with his sponsor, a rubber tycoon and creator of rubber mermaid tails among other things. Dali would appear on site while the exhibition was being created and snip the tails off of the mermaids (pdf). While he was not around for the opening of his creation, he purportedly hired a plane to drop printed leaflets over New York: "The Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to his Own Madness," a protest against efforts to interfere with his vision. [some links NSFW, via]
The Death Of Salvador Dali [18m23s] is a 2005 short film surrealistically depicting an imaginary visit to Sigmund Freud by the legendary artist. (Alternate Yahoo Video link) [more inside]
What's My Line? was a weekly televised game show that first ran in the US from 1950 to 1967, and featured a celebrity panel whose task it was to discern the profession or identity of the person who sat before them. The panel first guessed at the profession of two "regular folks," with a third "famous mystery guest," when the the panel were blindfolded and the guests often tried to disguise their voices. Let's start with a Halloween episode, split in 3 parts on YouTube, ending with the mystery guest (Andy Griffith). The lengthy list of Mystery Guests include the Harlem Globetrotters, Walt Disney, a young Ronald Reagan and Salvador Dalí (previously). [more inside]
Amanda Lear is one of the greatest enigmatic personalities to emerge from the 70's. Known in equal measures for her disco hits (such as Enigma,Queen of Chinatown, and Follow Me WARNING, youtube link) and her affairs with David Bowie, Brian Ferry of Roxy Music (and thus appearing on their For Your Pleasure album cover) and Salvador Dali. Her past was hazy at best. The most debated aspect of her past (so prevalent as to be mentioned even in reviews of her paintings is what sex she was born (One popular telling of the rumor even claimed it was Dali who paid for her surgery to become a woman). Her more recent, very private life took a tragic turn in 2000 when her home in France burned down killing her husband, the equally interesting Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villele. [MI]
"Romantic"...or "Neo-National-Socialist" Realism? If the following representations can whatsoever be called 'realist', then wherefore the campy ideological vulgarity of their subject matter, which make Leroy Neiman's works - yes, you may remember him accurately from the notorious Burger King collection of the late 1970's - seem as profound as Salvador Dali (156 MB - and "obscene" - MPEG file)? To wit: "Romantic Realism, the movement which renews the high esthetic standards and techniques of pre-20th century ateliers, brings a rebirth of comprehensibility, beauty, romanticism and stylization to contemporary subject matter." Linked from Instapundit. (Do political posts rendered as purely aesthetic questions merit "newsfilter" warnings? Consult the zeitgeist! And apologies for the question sounding like the title of a Paul Zindel play.) Qu'est-ce que c'est, le 'degenerate art', vraiment?
Way Lay is the homepage of cartoonist Carol Lay, creator of the strip Story Minute. In addition to being one of the few places one can view the strip without going through Salon's obnoxious free pass system. The site has the best autobiography I've seen for an artist site and images of earlier bizarre parodies of Salvador Dali and the Shroud of Turin.