On this date the surrealist painter SALVADOR DALI was born (d. 1989). Although famous for his masterworks, “The Persistence of Memory” and “The Last Supper“, the Catalan artist’s repertoire also included film, sculpture, and photography. He collaborated with Walt Disney on the Academy Award-nominated short cartoon Destino, which was released posthumously in 2003. He also collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on Hitchcock’s film “Spellbound.”

As a young artist Dali became close friends with, among others the filmmaker Luis Buñuel, and the poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca. Lorca fell deeply in love with Dali; photographs of the two show them being suggestively physical with each other. Although some biographers believe Lorca and Dali sexually consummated their relationship, it is not known for certain.

The relationship between the two has been one of the most guarded, censored and argued-about relationship in Spanish scholarship. In his “Lorca & Censorship” the Hispanist scholar Daniel Eisenberg, who has written and lectured extensively on Lorca and the attempt to censor the historical record of his sexuality and relationships, argues that the truth may eventually come out when the price is paid or the more sexually repressive parties die off. “When someone comes up with enough cash (I don’t know how much cash), Lorca’s letters to Salvador Dalí will be published. (For someone interested in Lorca and art, they might well be important.)

They are in the hands of Dalí’s executor, and presumably, since they are for sale, they are where no harm will befall them. I assume that the materials…will reach safe harbor after his death. Only then will we learn what he has withheld and why. Martínez Nadal, of course, is the one who has given us the most data about Lorca’s homosexuality: it is he who … has written at the greatest length about the place of homosexuality in the circles they moved in in Madrid in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s(38). So what is he suppressing, and why?

Which brings us to the 2008 British/Spanish film “Little Ashes“, which explores the sexual relationship between Dali and Garcia Lorca. Their close friendship has long been a subject of speculation, thanks in part to Dali’s repeated claims that Lorca had tried to seduce him. The film stars the British actor Robert Pattinson (best known as the moody romantic vampire in the Twilight franchise and Cedric Diggory in the fourth Harry Potter film) as the legendary surrealist painter, and the fabulous Spanish actor Javier Beltran as poet Lorca.

The screenwriter Philippa Goslett noted that based on her research “it’s clear something happened, no question … It began as a friendship, became more intimate and moved to a physical level but Dali found it difficult and couldn’t carry on. He said they tried to have sex but it hurt, so they couldn’t consummate the relationship. Considering Dali’s massive hang-ups, it’s not surprising.” It’s a pretty amazing little film and argues for Dali’s life of torment and weirdness as his inability to claim the great love of his life.