Salvador Dali Brings “Nuclear Mysticism” to Dallas — 1952

by Paula Bosse

dali_dmn_021752-photoDali does Dallas (photo, Dallas Morning News)

by Paula Bosse

The artist and pop phenomenon Salvador Dali came to Dallas in 1952 to present a lecture at McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus as part of the popular Community Course series. This was during his “Nuclear Mysticism” period, during which his paintings were influenced by the atomic age, science, and religion. One of the examples of this direction in his art is his painting “Raphaelesque Head Exploding” from 1951; he is seen above holding a print of the work (identified in the caption as “Raphaelesque Head Disintegrating Harmoniously”) in the lobby of the Baker Hotel, in a photo captured by an unnamed Dallas Morning News photographer.

dali-raphaelesque-head_1951“Raphaelesque Head Exploding” (click for larger image)

This 1952 American lecture tour included at least three stops in Texas: Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas. Dali and his wife, Gala, arrived in Dallas on the afternoon of Thursday, February 14, 1952, after the artist had spoken at a members-only event and luncheon at Fort Worth’s River Crest Country Club earlier in the day. The lecture at McFarlin Auditorium was on Saturday night, Feb. 16. (One wonders what he did in Dallas on his free day Friday….)

Dali was interviewed at the Baker Hotel by Paul Crume of The Dallas Morning News, a bit of an odd choice, in that Crume — author of the very popular front-page “Big D” column — was generally the paper’s go-to humor writer, an indication, perhaps, that Dali was considered less of a serious artist than as a quirky and larger-than-life entertainer. Which … fair enough. The byline-free review of the lecture may well have been written by Crume as well. Again, a bit off his beat.

The newspaper’s favorite morsel from Dali’s visit seems to have been his statement that he was astonished that his dreams in Texas had all been in technicolor. Crume wrote: “He wondered whether Texas didn’t have a lot of people who were trying to paint” (DMN, Feb. 17, 1952). A staff artist was even called in to provide a caricature when the statement was referenced elsewhere in the paper.

dali_dmn_021752DMN, Feb. 17, 1952

Dali loved dreaming in technicolor and mentioned it several times throughout his career. This little tidbit from Earl Wilson’s column in 1944 is amusing (if weighted down by Wilson’s unfortunate lapses into dialect).

dali_earl-wilson_112644New York Post, Nov. 26, 1944

To dream in technicolor “every time is very dangerous. Dreams in color every time is a terrific symptom of madness.” So, wow, those poor Texans….

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Below, clippings from his stop in Dallas.

dali_dmn_021052DMN, Feb. 10, 1952

dali_crume_dmn_021752DMN interview, Feb. 17, 1952 (click to enlarge)

dali_review_dmn-021752DMN review, Feb. 17, 1952 (click to enlarge)

dali_crume_big-d_dmn_021952Excerpt from Paul Crume’s “Big D” column (DMN, Feb. 19, 1952)

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Clippings and photo from The Dallas Morning News as noted. Earl Wilson excerpt from his syndicated column.

More on Salvador Dali’s “Nuclear Mysticism” is here. A more scholarly article on “Quantum Mysticism” and Dali is here.

An entertaining 1965 appearance by Dali on Merv Griffin’s talk show can be seen here. He talks about dreaming in “glorious Technicolor” at about 4:55. And, I mean, it’s just a great example of Dali as entertainer.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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