The Most Surreal Season
December 25, 2014 2:39 PM   Subscribe

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."

Hallmark ended up printing two of the ten designs, but some customers were upset by Dalí's avant-garde renderings of traditional religious images, and Hallmark eventually pulled the cards from the shelves.

This was not Dalí's first Christmas-card rodeo, nor his last.
posted by escape from the potato planet (32 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not enough rhinoceros!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:45 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nice work if you can get it.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:47 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dali did a lot of stuff for money when he was in America. He painted portraits of wealthy people; in the exhibit of later Dali that I saw a few years ago, they had a few of these, like Jack Warner (with his dog).
posted by thelonius at 2:54 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


He also signed canvasses and had other people paint his knock-offs. He was the lounge lizard of painters, but at least he had the genius, talent and vision to stay on this side of legitimate. He is my favourite artist.

And I want those cards!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 2:57 PM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Was the dog melting?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:58 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just when I can't possibly think, "Wow, people back then sure were prudes about stupid shit" any harder...
posted by Etrigan at 3:05 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


The angel with no head, just a flock of birds flying out of the top of his torso is pretty great.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:06 PM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I love these. If I had these, I would send them out every year.
posted by wormwood23 at 3:07 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Honestly "fairly serene except for an extremely dramatic camel" sums up the holiday season nicely.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:09 PM on December 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


I have seen much, much more offensive cards offered for sale every year, and nobody complains, as far as I know.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:24 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I seriously doubt that these "caused a public outcry". The only source for that is a newspaper column called "Amazing but True" and it's a third-hand story.

Considering that Dali was popular at the time and they released the two that were basically abstract nativity scenes, I can't imagine they would have bothered anyone. I will certainly believe that they didn't sell though.

The ones he did for a Spanish company are cool, they look like he was more into the idea that time.
posted by mmoncur at 3:31 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Avida Dollars
posted by adamvasco at 3:35 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does Hallmark still own the rights to these images? If so, I'd have thought boxed sets of Dali's Christmas cards would be rather a good seller today.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:56 PM on December 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Those are phenomenal.
posted by Slinga at 3:59 PM on December 25, 2014


In his autobiography ( which by the way is wonderful and insane and everyone should read it) Dali said he got tired of commercial interests copying his work and decided to cut out the middle man.
posted by The Whelk at 4:04 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


He was the lounge lizard of painters

Well, him and Picasso.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:05 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I guess great minds think alike
posted by The Whelk at 4:15 PM on December 25, 2014


MetaFilter: fairly serene except for an extremely dramatic camel
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:38 PM on December 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I blame the melting clocks.
posted by clavdivs at 4:50 PM on December 25, 2014


Agree, these are great and they should really reprint all of these as well as all the other gallery artists listed in the ad.

Says the person who hasn't bought a Christmas card in 20 years.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:18 PM on December 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Im not sure if the Hallmark costumer in 2014 would like these cards but the design conscious costumers would really like them. Its funny how the only two cards Hallmark found appealing to the public are those I found the less appealing, even dark.
posted by maxthemex at 5:24 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have a really cool Jerusalem Bible, illustrated by Dali. I would totally send some of those pictures as greeting cards.
posted by klausman at 8:48 PM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I loved this sentence in the article:

The filmmakers agreed to employ him for an hour and planned to use a robot to film the rest of his scenes.
posted by juiceCake at 9:17 PM on December 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


The big surprise from the Dali exhibit, by the way, was that "The Persistence Of Memory" is smaller than a dorm room poster of it.
posted by thelonius at 9:29 PM on December 25, 2014


Fantastic.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 10:20 PM on December 25, 2014


Absolut Dali.
posted by ian1977 at 6:08 AM on December 26, 2014


That's no camel, that's a Dali Llama. Oh but srsly, thanks for posting. The first one with the birds and the optical tricks and the tatters, and the second with the butterfly tree, I loved 'em.
posted by valetta at 9:15 AM on December 26, 2014




"Just when I can't possibly think, "Wow, people back then sure were prudes about stupid shit" any harder..."

IDK, we live in pretty conservative times, now. Corporations can be very sensitive to criticism, even though it often comes from a small minority. There are plenty of people around today who would jump at the chance to take offense to these images. Can't you just envision the Fox News segment? You know how some people get when it comes to religion.
That said, they should reissue all of them, and make them available to order online. But, I wouldn't put them on the shelves of the Hanceville, Alabama CVS, if you know what I mean.
posted by sudon't at 12:08 PM on December 26, 2014


Dali did a lot of stuff for money when he was in America.

Dali made a Datsun car advert that was in National Geographic around 1973.
At the time I thought it was kinda goofy, but now I think it's kinda cool.
posted by ovvl at 3:49 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Must admit I'm a bit disappointed that Catalan boy, Dali, did not incorporate a traditional Catalan character, the Caganer into his nativity scenes. Would have been fun to see Middle America's reaction to a Catalan tradition.
posted by the cydonian at 4:59 PM on December 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dali made a Datsun car advert that was in National Geographic around 1973.
At the time I thought it was kinda goofy, but now I think it's kinda cool.


I recall SCTV's take on it.
posted by juiceCake at 7:29 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


« Older Amazon One-hour Delivery   |   A recipe for an Icelandic song Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments