Tombs of Salvador Dali, Man Ray Endure Sad Indignities
By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dali Historian/Writer
What is it about Surrealists and tombs? First it was Salvador Dali, when a woman claiming to be the love child of Dali and his housekeeper managed to get a Spanish court order to have the kingpin of Surrealism’s body exhumed.
Testing of DNA left the woman SOL. That’s an American slang expression you may want to look up, if you’re not familiar with it. It was an outrage that poor Salvador Dali’s grave had to be trifled with in such an unspeakably intrusive manner. Pathetic! Dali deserves better.
Now another Surrealist and contemporary of Dali, Man Ray, is in the news, after some miscreant(s) desecrated his tomb in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, France. According to news reports, the gravestone was apparently wrenched off Ray’s tomb; a portrait of the artist and his wife also was smashed.
Ray, a leading figure in both Dada and Surrealism art movements, was also highly influential in the field of fashion photography. It’s widely held that his best-known work – simple but clever and compelling – was a 1924 photomontage called Ingre’s Violin. In it, he transformed the naked back of singer Kiki de Montparnasse – his lover and muse – into a violin. Dali quoted the idea in his own 1950s Red Orchestra painting as part of his Seven Lively Arts series of oils.
I cannot help but recall the incident where, in the early ‘60s, a museum-goer in Glasgow, Scotland hurled a chunk of jagged sandstone at Salvador Dali’s stunning and iconic religious masterwork, Christ of St. John of the Cross.
What is it about great artists and great art that stirs the emotions so? That moves people to drastic, antisocial acts like these? Are they jealous? Angry? Laden with religious or political axes to grind? Mentally unstable? Might the object of their apparent wrath just as easily have been, say, an automobile? Or a corporate office? Or something other than priceless fine art – or sacred resting places?
One thing is clear: art isn’t something that stays shrouded and sequestered in the corner of life. It’s not a wallflower afraid to step up and dance. No. Art in general, and the art of Salvador Dali and the Surrealists in particular, can often strike like a tidal wave.
Let’s not forget the firestorm created when Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel’s surrealist cinema classic, L’Age d’ Or, aired at Studio 28 in Paris, France in 1929. An exhibit of Surrealist paintings in the theatre lobby was trashed by dissidents, whose sensibilities came unhinged by the avant-garde maelstrom these examples of Surrealism stirred in them.
Art sure can be interesting.
[Images used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes only]