dalí / disney

Salvador Dalí and Disney – a match made in art

Of all of the outlandish and amazing artwork that Surrealist Salvador Dalí produced during his lifetime, perhaps the most unique and unlikely of them was his partnership with Walt Disney. Yes, Disney – the man responsible for beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck – not only worked with the eccentric Dalí to create the animated short film “Destino,” but the two developed a lasting friendship.

Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney by the beach in Spain, 1957. Photo courtesy of TheDali.org.

The Dalí Museum and the Walt Disney Family Museum invited guests to explore this eyebrow-raising alliance with its “Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination.” The show ran from July 10, 2015 to January 3, 2016 at the Disney museum in San Francisco, California, and from January 2016 to June 2016 at the Dalí museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The exhibition is a multi-media adventure, using original paintings, story sketches, archival film, photographs and more to show the artistic prominence of these vastly different icons, as well as how they partnered together for a project and came away as friends.

Despite their differences, these renowned visionaries had much in common (aside from impressive mustaches). As the Huffington Post points out, Disney, born in 1901 in Chicago, and Dalí, born three years later on May 11 in Catalonia, both began drawing at an early age. They both became innovative promoters with limitless imaginations that blurred the lines between dreams and reality.

The Dalí and Disney families around the dinner table in Spain, 1957. Photo courtesy of TheDali.org.

These two minds came together while at a party at Jack Warner’s house (of Warner Brothers Studio) in 1945. Disney and Dalí began talking – Dalí considered Disney a Surrealist, and Disney was intrigued by the artist’s autobiography – and the two decided to create a film together. In 1946, Dalí would visit Disney Studios, and in eight months, created 22 paintings and more than 135 storyboards, drawings and sketches. About 20 seconds of animation were created as well.

Unfortunately, destiny intervened in the form of post-World War II changes and other commitments, and the project was shelved. Five decades later, Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, was inspired to complete the project while working on “Fantasia 2000.” With the help of three-dimensional computer technology, “Destino” was released in 2003, kept as close to the original vision as possible.

The film – a short six minutes and 40 seconds – is the story of Chronos, the personification of time, pursuing a mortal woman. No dialogue is spoken. Instead, only the yearning Mexican ballad, titled “Destino,” by composer Armando Dominguez accompanies this blend of Disney animation and Dalí artwork. The original segment of animation is included, seen about five minutes into the film featuring two tortoises.

Of course, Disney and Dalí had different views of the plot. Dalí called the film “a magical exposition on the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.” Disney, however, decided it was “a simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”

Upon its release, “Destino” received several accolades, including an Oscar nomination for Best Short Film (2004) and a Certificate of Merit from the Chicago International Film Festival (2003).