Season’s Greetings From Salvador Dalí


The surrealist designed the Nativity scene above for Hallmark in 1959. Colin Marshall has more:

[Professor Rebecca] Bender cites Patrick Regan’s book Hallmark: A Century of Caring as describing Dalí’s “take on Christmas [being] a bit too avant garde for the average greeting card buyer.” But tastes, even mainstream tastes, seem to have broadened quite a bit over the past 55 years. The time may have come where every man, woman, and child in America could do with a little surrealism stirred into their Christmas spirit. If you agree, make sure to read and see everything else Bender has gathered from Dalí’s Christmas-card career, all of which will inspire you to make the Yuletide more aesthetically daring.

Bender points to a 1981 article about “The Dali Christmas Story” which reveals behind-the-scenes insight into Dali’s partnership with Hallmark:

[Hallmark head] Donald Hall felt that only two [of Dali’s ten designs] would have public appeal and put them into production. Feverish printing work brought them to the racks nationwide for Christmas of 1960. Both of these were surrealist renditions of the Christ Child; one with the Madonna, the other with the Holy Family. All figures were featureless and formless. All had symbols of divinity as halos, stars and crowns.

But they didn’t sell, caused a public outcry, became controversial and were pulled from the racks. Several hundred were unrecovered and have become collectors’ items. Offering these powerful interpretations of a sacred religious theme was a courageous act of Donald Hall. In an art gallery, their acceptance was assured, but as greeting cards the public rejected them.