Dali’s Factory II or “court of miracles” as he referred to it, is our third and last installment on the often overlooked Dali’s performance activity. See our first piece here, and our second piece here. As is always the case with the surrealist artist, scroll down at your own risk.
As we mentioned in our previous article, Dali’s home in Port Lligat, Hotel Meurice in Paris and St. Regis Hotel in New York, became the most desirable destinations for the emerging 60s and 70s youth new culture, as its host, Dalí, would spend extended periods of time a year on each of these locations creating a de facto global “factory”.
Amanda Lear was a constant muse for the Divine Dali, a disco queen in the 70’s, she dated the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones, modeled for Yves St. Laurent and Paco Rabanne, had an affair with David Bowie, was engaged to Bryan Ferry, and in addition, she was possibly, but never confirmed, a transsexual.
A regular at all Dali’s Fatory locations, Lear not only was Dali’s devoted protégée , but probably also the artist’s secrete creation.
The story goes that April Ashley, the transsexual who had once been George Jamieson, a Liverpudlian seaman, has long claimed she worked with Lear, then under the stage name “Peki d’Oslo,” in the Fifties at Le Carrousel, a transvestite venue in Paris.
The gangly, yet exotic Eurasian beauty Peki had a nose job and sex change in Casablanca paid for by none other than the Surrealist master Salvador Dali, who frequented Le Carrousel, in 1963.
Another version of the story states that in late 1965, Amanda Lear, was dining in a restaurant in Paris, the Castel, when she was invited to their table by Dennis and John Myers. At the head of the table sat Salvador Dali, he looked like a King to Amanda, sitting on a throne surrounded by courtiers, and favorites. Amanda’s beauty drew the attention of the artist – “You have a wonderful skull and skeleton of a high quality.”
Sexual ambiguity was highly interesting for Dalí; to him Lear represented what Freudians like to call the Other, and back then, in the wake of the sexual revolution, everyone who was anyone wanted a bit of the Other.
Amanda became a frequent guest of Dali’s Factory. Lear with proper understanding perceived spicy and often lewd jokes of Dali and willingly participated in many of his crazy adventures. At his request, she put on her tight-fitting tights, half-naked, going to the ball to the Baron de Rede, and in 1968 appeared in the castle of Rothschild in a hat made in the form of a shark’s jaws, decorated with roses.
Amanda Lear posed for many of Dali’s works of the late period.
Every summer, Amanda spent in the community of Salvador in his house Port Lligat on the coast of Sapin. Dali built there a swimming pool in the shape of a phallus and loved to watch naked Amanda swim there, finding in her a source of inspiration.
Salvador Dali during the recording of the program ‘Double Image’ of the Spanish public television, 26th January 1969.
Salvador Dali on a Honda CB750 Chopper. Le Meurice hotel in Paris was a main location of Dali’s Factory, where for three decades Dalí bunked at Le Meurice one month each year. Instead of checking in to a room, he needed to reserve the entire floor. The artist really enjoyed cruising the corridors on his bike.
Dalí’s antics at the St. Regis were legendary. He would startle guests every Sunday, heading down to brunch accompanied by his pet ocelot, Babou, and once ‘accidentally’ let loose a huge box of flies intended for an artwork.
First Arrondissement. Hôtel Meurice photographed by Jean Gaumy. Shocking performances where common place at Dali’s Factory.
Here with theater actor Pierre Spivakoff. He is best known for Les grandes conjurations: Le coup d’état and Le vol du Goéland, December 1969.
Salvador Dali with Steven Arnold’s and muse Pandora the night Dali screened and celebrated Mr. Arnold’s surrealistic film Luminous Procuress in on of Dali’s Factory locations, “the Louis XIV room” at the St. Regis hotel. New York City’s elite attended the screening, and the film received rave reviews from Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, and others.
Dalí was so impressed by Luminous Procuress that he invited Steven Arnold to Spain to assist in embellishing and inaugurating his Theatre-Museum Dali.
Marilyn-Mao portrait. The idea for such a portrait was hatched by Dali and adroitly executed by Halsman. The two artists collaborated to create a cross between Chairman Mao Zedong, the leader of Communist China and symbol of revolution, with Marilyn Monroe, the American movie star and sex symbol.
Dalí carried this picture every where and spoke endlessly how his image had combined the two cultures of China and America. To further exploit his image and genius, Dali had the images of both Mao and Marilyn, printed on actual dried beans. Dali said that the consumption these beans would start the cultural revolution growing inside you
The Mao-Marilyn portrait was first published when Dali was invited to curate the french edition of Vogue magazine in 1971 to celebrate its 5oth anniversary.
Salvador Dali took the entire control of the entire magazine; the fashion editorials, articles, even the adverts were masterminded by the artist.
Amanda Lear photographed by David Bailey for French Vogue December 1971.
Top model Veruschka dressed as Mao, surrounded by the chairman’s poems.
In early April of 1973, a mind-melding of sorts took place in “Dali’s Factoy”. Over the course of about two weeks, shock-rocker Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali, ate together, drank together, and basked in the glow of each other`s exceptional uniqueness.
Salvador made a suggestion that went something along the lines of, “I would like to turn you into a work of art.” It’s name will be ‘First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain.’”
The surrealist then handed Cooper a sculpture of his brain, with a chocolate eclair running down it`s middle and ants crawling all over it. The painter said, “This is Dali`s version of Alice Cooper`s brain,” to which Cooper replied, “Wow, I never thought I’d ever get this.”
The artwork features Cooper, and his ant-covered eclair brain, biting the head off of the Venus De Milo while wearing $2 million worth of diamond tiaras and necklaces.
Jon Stevens was commissioned by Salvador, as his special guest artist/protégé and another regular to Dali’s Factory meetings, to create a performance–photographic portrait with The Silver People at the opening of Dali’s Knoedler Gallery exhibition in New York.
Models were transformed from mere mortals into the incomparable art piece known as “The Silver People”.
From the Silver People statement: “Memorable metal images of people and gods throughout the ages, have further identified for us their connection with the infinite by covering their faces and bodies with silver and gold. The ancient Greeks struck immortality with their coins leaving sculptured impressions of their god and goddesses from Mount Olympus: Zeus, Athena, Hermes, Hero, Hercules, Dionysus, Helios, Poseidon.”
This was Dali’s last attended opening in the United States.
In 1973, Dalí worked with Playboy photographer Pompeo Posar on a editorial for the magazine.
Asked what his bizarre compositions meant, Dalí replied with an equally ambiguous response, “The meaning of my work is the motivation that is of the purest – money. What I did for Playboy is very good and your payment is equal to the task.”
In treating all genres freely, without inhibition, on an equal scale, be they artistic or commercial, Dalí was definitely a pioneer of cross-over tendencies in todays art practices.
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