Sentimental Colloquy, 1944 by Salvador Dali
In 1944 Dali wrote his only novel, Hidden Faces, worked with Hitchcock, and designed the sets for Sentimental Colloquy, a ballet loosely based on one of Verlaine's poems. Staged in New York, Sentimental Colloquy was a Surrealist extravaganza featuring dancers with underarm hair hanging down to the floor, a large mechanical tortoise encrusted with colored lights, and the manic cyclists commemorated in this painting of the event. Sentimental Colloquy design was used as the backdrop for the ballet. Images of the piano and cyclists parody Spanish provincial customs and the bourgeois culture of an elite public. In this design, the cyclists balance rocks on their skull-like heads.
On occasion, Dali liked to claim that painting was the least significant aspect of his genius. It was certainly true that he assumed a great variety of roles, especially after his successes in the United States gave him abundant opportunities. He was, among other things, an inventor, a fashion and jewelry designer, a writer, a movie-set designer (Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound), as well as a self-publicist, an early exponent of performance art and eventually the 'star' of many TV commercials.