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Doing a Dalí


Salvador Dalí's eccentricities
Brian Sewell Writer
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The following day, we had dinner, and all the rest of it and in the restaurant, where we had met. We didn’t have dinner in the house. I don’t think the kitchen was ever used in the house. We got into the Cadillac and drove down to have dinner, and were treated like princes. And dinner arrived and was eaten, and then we all got up and left. And I went back the next morning again, to pick up my dogs and feed them, and have my glass of brandy and coffee, and I said, 'Nobody paid the bill last night, you know. Can I pay it? Because I know we all walked out without anything'. And they said, 'No, no, he always does that. His secretary will come down at some point to… next week, perhaps, and we shall do some arithmetic and… so no, no, don’t worry about it'.

And then, at some point during the day, I was bathing, just lying on the beach with the others, and we watched Dalí do it again. It was, by then, a weekend, and Cadaqués kind of filled with students at weekends, and then emptied again. And he picked up about 20 and invited them all to come to his house that evening.

And I was again invited, so I went. And that evening, he ignored all the girls, so I was left behind with Gala, sitting in her egg. And I was sitting in my egg, and the various girls were scattered around this rather derelict sort of terrace because he hadn’t, at that point… later on, he installed a swimming pool up there, which was the shape of an erect phallus, you know, which wasn’t really very funny. And he’d put all sorts of absolutely ghastly kitsch pieces of sculpture and pottery and stuff around. None of that was there at that stage, and so the girls, who had been deserted, because he’d gone off with the boys, and he’d gone to the Christ with them. And I… I thought, you know, is this going to be a sort of last of the Medici experience? Where… the very, very last of the Medici, Gian Gastone used to lie in bed masturbating, while boys, perhaps as many of 50 boys were brought in to entertain him by sodomising each other. Times have changed.

So God knows what went on in the armpits that evening. And again, I don’t suppose there were actually photographed. I’m sure he was there with his camera, going click, click, and it was… there are certainly none of those photographs in the archive.

But that’s what he did: he needed people to adore him, even if they knew nothing about him. You know, so… and that’s, year after year.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: El Crist de les deixalles, photography, Cadillac, Salvador Dalí, Gala Dalí, Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Gian Gastone de' Medici

Duration: 3 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2013

Date story went live: 04 July 2013