The “legendary friendship” of Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalì began in 1923 when Dalí arrived at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid to study at the Special School of Drawing at the Academy of San Fernando. The first time they met, Lorca was amazed by Dalí’s unconventional style of dress while Dalí “in turn, was captivated by Lorca” and his first impression of Lorca was of a “poetic phenomenon in its entirety and ‘in the raw’ appearing suddenly before me in flesh and blood”. Despite their antithetical personalities (Dalí was very shy while Lorca was “a font of laughter and music”) and frequent disagreements about art and literature, Dalí and Lorca became fast friends and Lorca helped Dalí integrate into social life at the Resi.
From 1925 to 1927 the relationship between Dalí and Lorca grew as their admiration for one another and their influence over each other’s work intensified. Lorca fell in love with Cadaqués, a coastal village just north of Barcelona, where he went to stay over Easter holiday in 1925 with Dalí and his family in their summer home there. There, they spent their time walking through town, laughing with Ana María, Dalí’s beautiful sister, wandering the beach and watching each other work.
Lorca and Dali’s frienship was something more than that, “an erotic, tragic love, out of the fact of not being able to share it,” the painter himself would explain in 1986, in a letter to the editor published in EL PAÍS and meant for the Lorca historian Ian Gibson, whom he accused of underestimating his bond with the poet, “as though it had simply been a sugary sweet romantic novel.”
The relationship between both geniuses lasted, with all its ups and downs, from 1923 to 1936 (the year of Lorca’s execution at the onset of the Spanish Civil War). Besides the artistic partnership, the link gave rise to an intense exchange of letters that can now be read entirely, for the first time, in Querido Salvador, Querido Lorquito, a compilation by the journalist Víctor Fernández.
The gap left behind was filled by Luis Buñuel, who was jealous in his own way and “acted as a sapper in that relationship.” The filmmaker, who until then had had little intellectual and popular impact, would end up writing the script of Un chien andalou with Dalí. Lorca, who was from Andalusia, always felt the title was a reference to himself. Nevertheless, after Lorca’s death, he began to reappear in Dalí’s drawings and paintings.
When Gala died in 1982, Dalí regressed mentally to his student days in Madrid, where he first met Lorca and Buñuel in 1923. In the end, when he was refusing to eat and was down to 34 kilograms, one of the nurses who cared for him said that in all the time he was in her care, she only understood one sentence that he said: “My friend Lorca.”