Salvador Dali’s Adventures in Advertising

What sets Dali apart from the majority of the surrealists was his willing suffusion into the consumer landscape, a move which infuriated many of his fellow surrealists including the founder of the movement, Andre Breton. Breton dubbed Dali ‘Avida Dollars’, an anagram of Dali’s name which translates as ‘eager for dollars’. Dali took centre stage in many advertising campaigns of the 60s and 70s including Brainiff airlines in 1968, Lanvin chocolate in 1969, Nissan and Iberia airlines in 1972, Alka Seltzer pharmaceuticals in 1974.

Dali’s Lanvin chocolat ad, 1969

He also designed the cover for various issues of Vogue in the 40s.

Vogue cover, 1944
Vogue cover, 1939

He even updated the now iconic design logo for Chupa Chups logo in 1969 which remains relatively unaltered to this day.

Dali advertising Chupa Chups, 1969

Dali’s art continues to influence advertisers in and around the twenty-first century, in the form of global brands like Lipton Ice Tea, who produced a Russian ad in 1998 inspired by his soft self-portraits:

Dali inspired Lipton’s ad, 1998

Volkswagen also released a Dali inspired ad in 2008 to promote their new Polo Bluemotion:

Dali inspired Volkswagen ad, 2008

Although one of the main aims of the surrealists was to contest the post-war consumer-capitalist spectacle by reinvigorating the imagination, Dali was attuned to the overwhelming power of the capitalist machine. Ideologically, he perhaps preempted the later Pop artists whose popularity peaked in the 60s, who understood that the only way to tackle the spectacle was to become a part of it – thus the very form of art became the means by which people were able to perceive the truth of modernity and their total subsumption by the spectacle.

Dali’s involvement in advertising was thus far more than a mere capital-led endeavour, rather, it was demonstrative of an artist wholly in tune to the subconscious forces at play within Western society.

NB: see David Tuckers blog article for more examples of his fascinating work for Vogue.

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