Dali Imagines an LSD Trip in ‘Trippy’ 1967 Painting
By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dali Historian
Here’s a Dali you’re more than likely not familiar with: “The Mountains of Cape Creus on the March (LSD Trip),” painted in 1967 at the height of the psychedelic, free love, acid-popping movement (not to mention the year this dali.com blogger graduated from high school).
“Mountains of Cape Creus on the March (LSD Trip)” – executed in watercolor and India ink – was painted the same year as another, far more famous psychedelic Dali work – the huge masterwork, “Tuna Fishing,” and both Dali paintings are owned by The Paul Ricard Foundation, Ile de Bendor, off the coast of France.
In some ways “The Mountains of Cape Creus on the March (LSD Trip)” is untypical of the imagery and style we’re accustomed to expecting from the kingpin of Surrealism (though was anything he did every typical or predictable?). On the other hand, the work is indeed Daliesque: monumental animals on impossibly frail legs; dripping eye balls; riders on horseback; and more.
The title tells us pretty directly what we’re looking at: towering mountains from the Cape Creus region of Spain, where Dali lived all his life, and from which he drew enormous and continuous inspiration – and they’re in fact on the march. However, they’ve been transformed into a huge chicken at the rear and an equally massive elephant up-front, on whose head a wizard sits. The chicken’s head, meanwhile, is accompanied by that of a sorcerer with a curly beard. Several other human and animal forms are along for the ride as well, high above the Spanish landscape below, on which random tiny figures cavort.
All the while, dragon flies and bursting flowers and eyes with thick drops emerging, together with splashes of colors in red, yellow and blue, all conspire to give credence to the painting’s hallucinatory subtitle: LSD Trip.
Could this have actually been painted while Salvador Dali had taken LSD? While Dali dropped acid? Very, very unlikely, and here’s why:
First and foremost, Dali was something of a hypochondriac. From every indication, he was loathe to doing anything that would put his health in jeopardy. He was a virtual teetotaler, for instance, choosing mineral water over alcohol, with rare exception. It was also unlikely that Dali actually did or even tried LSD, because his approach to painting was always precise and deliberate; being on a “trip” would hardly be conducive to creating a carefully painted picture.
What’s more, do you really think the imagination of Salvador Dali required the assistance of mind-altering drugs? Little wonder Dali declared, “I don’t take drugs – I AM drugs!” And, adding a touch of rhyme, “Don’t take LSD – take Dali!”