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Critic Brian Sewell had a "mutually confessional" sexual friendship with surrealist master Salvador Dali, which flowered over four summers at Dalí's home in Spain. Sewell makes the case that Dalí was a painter of technical brilliance whose talent reached its high point in the 1930s, but declined into vulgarity when he moved to the US and embraced the cult of celebrity.
Critic's surreal briefs encounter
Saturday June 2, 2007
Entitled Dirty Dalí, it recounts the story of his "mutually confessional" friendship with the surrealist master, which flowered over four summers at Dalí's home in Cadaques on the Costa Brava in the late 60s and early 70s. Sewell was a comely young man holidaying alone, and the ageing Dalí invited him back to his house for lunch à trois with his wife, Gala.
Sewell fans will not easily recover from a photograph of the great critic on the beach clad only in the briefest pair of Speedo-style swimming trunks.
The bigger shock is Sewell's revelation that after a long and convivial meal, Dalí took him for a walk in the garden, where he prevailed upon Sewell to remove his clothes, lie down next to an enormous statue of the reclining Christ - and masturbate, while Dalí snapped away with a camera and "fumbled in his trousers".
Sewell says he believes the camera was empty, and Dalí was a mere voyeur. And yet his documentary shows Dalí's house festooned with thousands of photographs, and Sewell appears to concede that an enormous, secret photo-archive of such encounters could exist.
The superbly candid programme outlines Sewell's belief that Dalí was a painter of technical brilliance whose talent reached its high point in the 1930s, but declined into vulgarity when he moved to the US and embraced the cult of celebrity.
The documentary was timed to complement the Dalí and Film exhibition at Tate Modern (ending sept 9, 2007).