Mike Wallace 1958 interview of Salvador Dali (Part 1)

There was a very interesting interview with Dali by Mike Wallace. Here are the video clips and transcript below:

Salvador Dali – Mike Wallace interview 1958 – Part 1/2

Guest: Salvador Dali
4/19/58WALLACE: Good evening…Tonight we go after the story of an extraordinary personality. He’s Salvador Dali, the great surrealist painter who sees the world through surrealist eyes. If you’re curious to hear Salvador Dali talk about decadence, death and immortality, about his surrealist art, his politics and his existence before he was born,we’ll go after those stories in just a moment. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Parliament.


WALLACE: And now to our story. Salvador Dali is a self-confessed genius with an ingenious flair for publicity. An internationally renowned modern artist, he’s also designed fur lined bathtubs, he’s lectured with his head enclosed in a diving helmet and he claims that at the basis of his ideas are, as he puts it, cauliflowers and rhinoceros horns.

WALLACE: He paints like this, here you see perhaps his most famous work. It’s called “Persistence of Memory”. In contrast to this dream like picture, here is Dali’s surrealistic commentary on the horrors of war. It’s called “The Face of War”. And now an example of Dali’s latest phase, “The Crucifixion” showing his current preoccupation with religious subjects. Now let’s try to find out some more about the enigma of Salvador Dali.

WALLACE: Dali, first of all let me ask you this, you’re a remarkable painter and you’ve dedicated your life to art, in view of this, why do you behave the way that you do? For instance, you have been known to drive in a car filled to the roof with cauliflowers. You lectured, as I mentioned, once with your head enclosed in a diving helmet and you almost suffocated. You issue bizarre statements about your love for rhinoceros horns and so on. You’re a dedicated artist, why do you or why must you do these things?

DALI: Because for this kind of eccentricities correspond with more important and the more tragical part of my life.

WALLACE: The more important and the more tragical part. I don’t understand.

DALI: The more philosophical.

WALLACE: Well, what is philosophical about driving in a car full of cauliflowers or lecturing inside a diving helmet?

DALI: Because discover and make one tremendous speech, a most scientific in the Sorbonne in Paris… of what my discovering of the logarithmic curve of cauliflower.

WALLACE: The what?

DALI: logarithmic curve of cauliflower.

WALLACE : Oh yes, the “logarithmic curve”… yes…

DALI: And if in time the logarithmic curve in the horns of rhinoceros — in this time discover, this is a symbol of chastity, one of the most powerful symbols of modern times.

WALLACE: Chastity is one of the most powerful symbols of modern times?

DALI: In my opinion it is the more… urgent and the more dramatic because the chastity represents the force of spirit…. chaste in any religion, you know because of promiscuity, the people make love, there is no more the spiritual strength, no more the spiritual thoughts.

WALLACE: Well, we’ll get to your spirituality your increasing spirituality over the years in just a moment. About lecturing with your head enclosed in a diving helmet, why? why?

DALI: Because I think there is nothing like it. The audience understand Dali when penetrate in the bottom of the sea…

WALLACE: What’s that?

DALI: Penetrate.

WALLACE: Penetrate ?

DALI: In the bottom of subconscient mean… sea… In– inside the sea.

WALLACE: Yes, down in the sea?

DALI: In the depth of the sub-conscious.

WALLACE: In the depth of the sub-conscious?

DALI: Exactly. The sea is one very clear symbol for arriving this stage of…

WALLACE: We try to understand in all seriousness…We try to understand you and you try to explain but earlier this week you told our reporter, “I like to be a clown, a buffoon, I like to spread complete confusion.” Before we were on the air, you said to me. “Ask embarrassing questions, ask embarrassing questions”. Why?

DALI: Because incidentally, make one movie in France, only it is movie of myself dance Charleston and my friends look this piece of movie at all, Dali in this part is much better than Charlie Chaplin. For me is very interesting…

WALLACE: Well are you…

DALI: …because you see in Dali is one marvelous painter, in living time is one marvelous clown… much more interesting for everybody

WALLACE: You want to be a marvelous clown as well as a marvelous painter?

DALI: If it is possible, live two together is very good, you know. Charlie Chaplin is one genial clown but never painted like Dali, Charlie Chaplin’s living times paint masterpieces. Or is thousand times much more important to Charlie Chaplin.

WALLACE: Well now wait. Wait. Despite your hi-jinks, time and again you have called yourself a genius and you’re very serious about this. Now you want to be evidently, you want to be a genius in two fields. First of all, you have called yourself a genius?

DALI: In many different fields, you know.


DALI: Yes.

WALLACE: What else besides an artist?

DALI: The most important in my life, modern clown, modern painting, modern draftsmanship is my personality.

WALLACE: Draftsmanship?

DALI: My personality?

WALLACE: Oh yes.

DALI: My personality is more important than any of these little facets of my activities.

WALLACE: In other words, what is most important to you…

DALI: Is my personality.

WALLACE: …..is expressing Dali, not the painting, not the clowning, nothing but…

DALI: The painting, the clowning, the showmanship, the technique – everything is only one manner for express the total personality of Dali.

WALLACE: I see, I see. Let’s take a look at one of your major paintings, Dali. It’s called “Sleep”. There it is now on the monitor. What’s the point of this picture? Is there any point?

DALI: This is very important because myself work constantly in the moment of sleep… Every of my best ideas coming through my dreams and the more Dalian activity consists in this moment of sleep.

WALLACE: In other words, you conceive a good deal of your…

DALI: The most important things happen in the moment of myself in sleep…

WALLACE: I was going to ask if there was any major theme, any powerful idea which inspires all your work, could you tell us what it was? Evidently what it is, is simply an expression of Dali, period. There is nothing more in it or am I wrong?

DALI: No, Dali. Of course, the cosmogony of Dali.

WALLACE: The what?

DALI: Cosmogony of Dali.

WALLACE: What is the cosmogony of Dali? What does that mean?

DALI: This is in advance of a new nuclear physics, because every of my paintings, everybody laugh in the moment of look for the first time but almost after twelve years every scientific people recognize the area of this painting is one real prophecy in the moment of painting my soft watches, the more rigid object for everybody, and myself paint these watches in the soft Camembert– everybody laugh. The last development of nuclear physics proved to a new conception of space-time is completely flexible. Now it is in microphysics the time brought in reverse and this proved that this object of completely surrealistic approach of soft watches for what is completely true and scientific…

WALLACE: Dali, I must confess, you lost me about half way through and I’m not sure I’m not sure that we can let me try it another way.

What does a painter, what does any painter contribute to the world and to his fellowmen? Any painter, not just Dali. What does a painter contribute?

DALI: Every painter paints the cosmogony of himself.

WALLACE: Of himself, and it’s as simple as that? Which contains…..

DALI: Raphael paint because of the cosmogony of Raphael. Raphael is the Renaissance period. Dali paint the atomic age and the Freudian age nuclear things and psychologic things.

WALLACE: Which contemporary painters, if any, do you admire?

DALI: First Dali, after Dali, Picasso, after this, no others.

WALLACE: Of these, Dali and Picasso are the only two that really excite you?

DALI: The two geniuses of modern painting.

WALLACE: The two geniuses of modern times are Dali and Picasso? In your autobiography, you wrote this, you said, “I adore three things, weakness, old age and luxury”. Why?

DALI: Because luxury is one product of monarchy, and myself every day becoming more monarchy, not in a political way because never is Dali interested in political… but…

WALLACE: In politics.

DALI: In the philosophical and cosmological…


DALI: Yes, because in the modern sense, the new discoveries of chromosomes and physics and biology, everything through the monarchy is the most luxurious things in life…

WALLACE: The most luxurious, all right. Now, old age…

DALI: …..and the most perfect.

WALLACE: And the most perfect? And old age? Why do you adore old age?

DALI: Because the little young peoples completely stupid, you know.

WALLACE: Young people are stupid?

DALI: They all only believe geniuses are old people (like) Leonardo de Vinci or arrive at some real achievement.

WALLACE: And weakness, why do you adore weakness?

DALI: Because in the modern physics everything is weak, every proton and neutron is surrounded of weakness, of nothing. In this moment the most fantastic thing in physics is le anti-matter. Every new physician talk about anti-matter, and Dali paint, 20 years ago, le first anti-matter angels.

WALLACE: You write in your biography that death is beautiful. What’s beautiful about death? Why is death beautiful?

DALI: This is one feeling everything is erotic in my opinion.

WALLACE: Everything is what?

DALI: Erotic.

WALLACE: Erotic?

DALI: …is ugly, in the middle of everything ugly so arrive the feeling of death, everything becomes noble and sublime.

WALLACE: Oh, in other words, life is erotic and therefore ugly. Death is not erotic but sublime, therefore beautiful?

DALI: And beautiful. You know for instance, you, Micky Wallace, now is you a little good pay, a little handsome, but essentially, you becoming death, everybody tips his chapeau to you, you become fantastic man, everybody respects you a thousand times much better.

WALLACE: Is this by way of a suggestion?

DALI: Exactly. See you make one strip tease, you become ugly in one second.

WALLACE: Oh, I agree, I agree. Tell me this, what do you think will happen to you when you die?

DALI: myself not believe in my death.

WALLACE: You will not die?

DALI: No, no believe in general in death but in the death of Dali absolutely not. Believe in my death becoming very — almost impossible.

WALLACE: You fear death?

DALI: Yes.

WALLACE: Death is beautiful but you fear death?

DALI: Exactly……because Dali is contradictory and paradoxical man.

WALLACE: Well yes indeed, Dali is paradoxical and contradictory but why — why this fear of death? What do you fear in death?

DALI: Because there is no sufficient convenience of my faith in religion. In the moment of myself believe more ?

WALLACE: You’re not sufficiently convinced of your faith….

DALI: Exactly.

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