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Where Dalí Meets Disney

In 1945, after a chance encounter with Disney at a cocktail party in Hollywood, Salvador Dalí was invited to collaborate on a short animated film entitled Destino. The project was eventually terminated in its preparatory phase, but a whole array of conceptual paintings (executed by Dalí himself) remained in the Disney archive, and, in 2003, the Walt Disney Company hired a team of French animators to complete the film based on the surviving sketches.  This was the version that toured in a number of highly publicised exhibitions, including the retrospective ‘Dalí and Film’ staged at the Tate in 2007, among other international venues. Read more →

American Gothic

Chaos, Anachronism and Modernity in Eyvind Earle’s Sleeping Beauty 

Gustave Doré, Illustration for Charles Perrault’s La Belle au Bois Dormant in Les Contes de Perrault, 1867​

The philosopher of anachronism, Jeremy Tambling, has argued that what is ‘postponed’ appears as anachronistic. Drawing a metaphor from the world of modern travel, he writes that jet-lag (décalage horaire or ‘time-gap’ in French), ‘places one time (that of the body) inside another [time], literally postpones it’ (Tambling, 2010: 16). The Beauty in Charles Perrault’s famous story for children, published in 1697—he first of its kind to be called La Belle au Bois Dormant (‘The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood’) —, is herself an anachronism, a body ‘postponed’—a figure from the ancient past recalled to life. And the Prince, who helps her to rise, is struck with embarrassment. For though she is fully dressed (and quite magnificently), she is dressed just like his great-grandmother – in the fashion of a century before – and wears a ‘point-band’ peeping over her collar (Perrault, 1992: 89). Read more →

The Sentimental-Sublime

In the autumn of 1927, Salvador Dalí wrote to his friend Frederico Lorca denouncing the much-admired contemporary Spanish poet, Juan Jiménez. The latter, according to Dalí, is a ‘putrid marasmus’ who ‘has never ever seen anything, only receives mangy emotions from things’ (qtd. Ades, 1994: 139).  Dalí was especially outraged by Jiménez’s famous story Platero y Yo (1914), an account of the poet’s beloved companion Platero, a donkey, and their bland sojourns through pastoral scenes.  As Dawn Ades has speculated, Dalí’s violent dislike of this gentle, sentimental story may have contributed to the appearance of the rotting donkey as a visual image in such paintings as Honey Is Sweeter than Blood and as a verbal parody in written communication between Dalí and Lorca. In one such letter dated early December 1927, Dalí signs himself… ‘your ROTTING DONKEY’ and adds, ‘may…Platero…die’ (qtd. Ades, 1994: 139).

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(In)Edible Beauty

We do not begin with a siren singing (that comes later) but with a human passenger in want of his sea-legs.  In the opening scene of Walt Disney’s cartoon version of The Little Mermaid (1989) (amidst a range of nautical-themed pratfalls), the Prince’s comic old retainer balks over the side of a galleon, his face coloured a septic shade of green. Read more →

Of Mice and Brides

The mind which plunges into surrealism relives, with glowing excitement, the best part of its childhood…From childhood memories, and from a few others, there emanates a sentiment of being unintegrated, and then later of having gone astray, which I hold to be the most fertile that exists. (Breton, 2010: 39-40)

Andre Breton, ‘The Manifesto of Surrealism’, 1924 Read more →