“Dali’s Greatest Secret: The Story Behind the Painting That Changed Salvador Dali’s Life” reveals the secret of renowned artist Salvador Dali’s Quest for God and redemption and reveals the story behind the painting that changed his life.
SALVADOR DALI WAS AT THE TOP OF HIS ARTISTIC FAME, yet had a fear he could not conquer: Death. Cloning may be the answer, he thought, until he found it would replicate only his body, not his memory. Thoughts of freezing his remains for revival later seemed experimental and left him cold. He thought of turning to religion but was confused about his belief in God and religion.
Then Dali was approached by John Haffert, the charismatic leader of a Catholic religious order with an offer to paint The Vision of Hell, one of the famous visions seen by the shepherd children at Fatima in 1917. Dali was only slightly interested until he had a secret meeting with Sister Lucia, the cloistered nun who saw the vision of Hell as a child. With that meeting Dali began to experience faith, and the escape from death he believed it promised.
- But how would he keep the world from knowing he had returned to church?
- And why did many in the Catholic Church dislike Salvador Dali’s visionary masterpiece?
- And why was this masterwork hidden beneath a nun’s bed for 30 years?
Dali’s Greatest Secret is an untold story that changes our view of Salvador Dali and answers many mysteries in his work and personal life. Revealing, touching and puzzling, Dali’s Greatest Secret takes us on the spiritual journey of history’s greatest surrealist artist.
At the age of 55, Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali found himself trapped between Communist atheism and Roman Catholic belief in God. It is no surprise given that Salvador’s father was an atheist and his beloved mother, who died when he was 16, was a staunch Catholic. Dali felt spiritually trapped.
“Heaven is to be found exactly in the center of the bosom of the man who has faith,” he wrote in his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. “At this moment I do not yet have faith, and I fear I shall die without heaven.”
Now, in 1959, all of that was about to change. Salvador Dali was asked by John Haffert, cofounder and director of The World Apostolate of Fatima (also known as The Blue Army) to paint a picture of the first part of the Fátima Secret, the Vision of Hell, as seen in 1917 by the child seers of Fatima.
“The painting Dali was commissioned to do was just a work for hire,” said the film’s writer/director Paul Perry. “But it turned into much more than that for Dali. By studying the Message of Fatima and description of the Apparitions and Visions and spending time with world renown Fatima Scholars, and allegedly meeting Sister Lucia — the only living Seer of 1917 — Dali converted back to Catholicism,
the religion of his childhood.”
There was just one catch – he kept the conversion to himself. It was to become Dali’s Greatest Secret. Dalí’s Fatima Secret!
“Dali definitely became more religious during this period,” said Nicolas Descharnes, Dali expert, Associate Producer and – along with his father Robert – the world’s leading authenticator of Dali’s art. “But he hid it from the people in his inner circle. Only a special group of people knew of Dali’s conversion and of his daily routine of Mass, prayers and devotions.
As proof of Dali’s increased interest in religion, Descharnes points to a 400% increase in the amount of religious art created by the surrealist after he painted Vision of Hell in 1961.
“Dali did nothing in the usual way,” said Perry. “He was one of the greatest artists in the 20th century, and certainly one of its most unique. He was a constant seeker of truth in all arenas of life – mysticism, history, science, God – and he rediscovered God by accident through the Vision of Hell at Fatima. Dali’s devotion to Fatima and the Secrecy surrounding this painting and his own conversion is one of the great untold stories in art.”