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A relationship with Claudio Corvaja


Doing a Dalí
Brian Sewell Writer
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[Q] Did you also have other, more substantial conversations with him about art and so on?

We had very substantial conversations about art, yes. And about forgery, because by then he was being naughty. He was signing pieces of paper, and, you know, I said, 'You shouldn’t do this'. And he was being quite unabashed about it, because it brought him money. And he and Gala were very much… money was the engine room of their lives. And Gala was amazingly extravagant. Gala was, you know, absurdly generous to her picked up boys.

But it was pretty clear that the pictures at that stage were really largely painted by… I can’t remember his name. He had an assistant who came in from the village, and who was pretty adept at doing a Dalí.

[Q] Wonderful.

But he was very… it was interesting for me, because he was very confiding about his own sexuality. And he talked to me about his huge affection for… oh God, I can’t remember his name. The Spanish writer who was shot by…

[Q] Lorca?

Lorca, yes. And I think I know what happened. He was still obfuscating, but when somebody tells you the story in dribs and drabs, and the dribs and drabs, when you piece them together, do not conflict, then I think you end up with something very near the truth. And there is no doubt in my mind that Lorca, who was queer, attempted to bugger him. And was only partially successful, because Dalí didn’t want to go beyond the pain. He was… when you’re fucked for the first… when a man is fucked for the first time, it is not pleasurable. You have to get used to it. You have to have a sort of technique of relaxation, otherwise it… and Dalí didn’t give it a chance, shall we say. And so it never… anyway, I… Dalí also… I… he quite clearly had problems with his anus. It didn’t open easily. I remember my sort of arrival gift one year was an instrument that I bought in John Bell & Croyden, and I can’t remember what the technical term is, but it was… oh yes, I have... it was an anal dilator, which was the sort of thing that Damien Hirst might put in one of his cabinets. But when I gave it to Dalí, he was absolutely delighted and knew at once what it was for. Whether he used it or not, I don’t know.

He had, in his studio... in his studio, of all places, a drawer full of dildos, which was in a curious way enlightening. I think it was penis envy, you know, rather than that he did anything with them, but I think that, you know, if he saw a rubber penis, then gosh, it gave him a frisson of something or other.

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: John Bell & Croydon, anal dilator, dildo, Salvador Dalí, Gala Dalí, Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Federico García Lorca, Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca, Damien Steven Hirst

Duration: 4 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2013

Date story went live: 04 July 2013