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Tony Grist

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The Great Masturbator [Jun. 4th, 2007|10:19 am]
Tony Grist

Brian Sewell knew Salvador Dali well enough to wank for him and- in a documentary broadcast last night- pretty much tore away the mystique. Dali was gay and sex mad and terribly, terribly fastidious. He hated to be touched. What he liked was to have young men masturbate for him and- in a curious twist- to masturbate himself with women watching. That's it. That's what his art is all about. Now you know.

By the 1960s- when Sewell was hanging out with him- Dali was all washed up. He'd stopped painting and spent his days shuffling along the beach at Cadaques in his hippie gear and his nights imperiously presiding over orgies. Any work with his signature on it dated 1960 and after is likely to be bogus. His wife Gala- who needed the money to fund her interest in studly young men- got people to turn out imitation Dalis and Dali- who was completely under her thumb- would sign anything she asked him to sign (including blank sheets of paper)- which explains why most of the work  in the Dali museum at Figueres is so crap. 

It's good to know all this. But of course none of it- as Sewell acknowledges- changes the fact that Dali was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. 

Image:Salvador Dali NYWTS.jpg

Dali and ocelot by Roger Higgins. 1965

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2007-06-04 09:48 am (UTC)
Looks like he definitely had the greatest pet a 20th century artist ever owned.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-04 10:00 am (UTC)
I suspect the ocelot was a prop rather than a pet- and that he handed it back to its keeper after the shoot.
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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2007-06-04 10:08 am (UTC)
Very interesting - I've been to that museum, and while some of the sculptural installations, like the car which rains inside, were impressive, I do remember finding the galleries of pencil drawings rater disappointing. I knew he'd become a bit of a self-cariacature late in life, but hadn't known about the imitators.

I'm also with huskyteer about the ocelot - I'm afraid my reaction to the photo was to ignore Dali altogether, and concentrate on the huge eyes and beautiful markings of his little friend.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2007-06-04 10:49 am (UTC)
I like the way Dali is squishing the ocelot's face into his cheek. That's what made me think it was his own personal ocelot.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-04 10:58 am (UTC)
It could be. To be honest, I haven't a clue. Was Dali into cats? I associate him more with rhinoceri.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-05 08:10 am (UTC)
That's not Dali. That's Adolf Hitler with a paintbrush stuck up his nose.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2007-06-04 06:38 pm (UTC)
I found it ironic, given that he didn't like people to touch him.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-04 10:56 am (UTC)
The car that rains inside is brilliant. I think it dates to Dali's golden years.

It's a strange place, isn't it, that museum?

The ocelot seems supremely confident. It makes one wonder which is owner, which is pet?


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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2007-06-04 11:03 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed it, but I remember thinking even at the time (I must have been about 22, I think) that I'd probably got about as close to Dali as I wanted to get going round it. There was an air of faded desperation about the place.

And yes, I see what you mean about the ocelot. He is just ace - I think someone should make a museum all about him.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-04 11:37 am (UTC)
Dali is limited. He had one or two tropes and by the end of his career he'd worked them to death. The Dali museum has something of the air of a run-down amusement park. "Faded desperation" is exactly right.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2007-06-04 01:02 pm (UTC)
How strange. I have never liked Dali as an artist. I wonder if I was reacting to the vibe.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-04 04:00 pm (UTC)
I've never liked him much, but I do find him interesting.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2007-06-05 01:22 am (UTC)
To me, the ocelot looks like it's saying "Will someone. PLEASE. Get me away from this fecker. NOW."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-05 08:11 am (UTC)
It reminds me of that old Astaire/Garland number, "We're a couple of swells".
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-06-07 03:02 pm (UTC)

Ocelot, etc.

Brian Sewell's programme was entertaining, but the idea that all Dali's work after 1960 is bogus is overstating the case by leaps and bounds. Yes, he was engaging in dodgy activities, but he was also painting some great works. One could argue that he had assistance (from Isador Bea, for example), but one can't say flat-out that he didn't paint them. And at the end of the day, they're definitely not *just* about wanking on the beach. :P As for the ocelot, it was one of two pets named Babou and Bouba that belonged to his then-business manager, Peter Moore. Dali never cared for them and used to say the only thing they were good for was throwing in the swimming pool!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-07 03:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Ocelot, etc.

Thank you for that. I've been looking round for clarification of Sewell's rather sweeping claim about Dali's later work and haven't been able to find anything that either confirmed or disproved it.

As for the ocelots, that will come as a grievous blow to all my cat-loving friends.
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