When Andy Met Dali
Photographer David McCabe remembers the artists’ first meeting:
I went with Andy to see Dalí at the St. Regis Hotel. Dalí used to paint his suite at the St. Regis. He was working on two enormous paintings at the time. He greeted us at the door, ordered up all sorts of lavish room service – bottles of wine and so on – and that was that. After “Hello, welcome to my humble atelier for the fabrication of dollars” or whatever folderol Dalí was putting out that day, Dalí and Andy barely said another word to each other. It was not possible. The music was playing so loudly. He had grand opera blasting at ear-splitting level. To add to the chaos, Dalí had picked up a stray cat on the street. It was wild, totally feral, and it was bouncing off the walls, bouncing off his paintings, careening off everything in the room. Dalí would grab it and try to hold it, but he’d have to let it go because it was trying to claw him. Dalí was in shock, I think, because he loved cats. It was a hair-raising situation. Andy was just stunned.
It was the first time I’d seen Andy drink. He was slugging back white wine. Dalí turned the whole event into theater, and Andy wasn’t theatrical in that way. At one point Dalí grabbed this elaborate Inca headdress that he had been using as a prop – you can see its outline in that painting behind him – and put the headdress on Andy. He positioned himself very melodramatically behind Andy still wearing the silly-looking headdress, glared into the camera, and gestured wildly with his walking stick.
A total Dalí performance. Theater of the Absurd. Gala drifted in and out. At one point, I remember Dalí gesturing to her menacingly with his walking stick, as if to say that she shouldn’t be in the photograph.
Dalí took over the situation outrageously. He just staged the whole thing. Andy was petrified. He sat there frozen, like a statue, utterly speechless. He couldn’t have spoken anyway, because the volume of the music was so loud. An ingenious way Dalí had perhaps devised to avoid having to talk to anyone. But of course with Andy he needn’t have worried. Andy wouldn’t have said anything anyway.
Photos and story found at Born Late Blogspot. Photos shown here have been manipulated by myself, removing halftone screen and adding duotones for effect.
All images are copyright of David McCabe.
Phillipe Halsman – 14 Dali Portraits
Dali on the TV show What’s my Line?
Spellbound – Dreams Designed by Dali 1945