I always thought—like many others—that the paintings and graphics of Salvador Dali (1904-1989) were on the whole less interesting than his writings.  There are great paintings in the canon for sure, but there are far more weak ones.  As a writer, however, Dali possessed a gloriously vivid and inventive voice of his own, a voice never better exemplified than by his brilliant autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, published (lavishly) by the Dial Press in New York in 1942.  I’ve read it a dozen times, each time with greater delight than the time before.
     If one were to make a bestiary of the creatures that show up in works by Salvador Dali (1904-1989) it would have to include ants (obviously), snails, donkeys, giraffes (usually on fire), pigeons, lobsters (as telephone receivers), elephants on skinny legs like spiders, horses, lions, tigers, and rhinoceri—the latter often represented only by their horns.
     Dali nursed a hundred obsessions and rhino horns were one of them.   There is a photo I love of Dali sitting on a stool in the Louvre in 1954, earnestly painting a copy of Vermeer’s The Lacemaker (1670) but in fact filling his small canvas with images of rhinoceros horns.  That same year, he decided to tackle the rhino-as-subject directly, working at the Vincennes Zoo in Paris, studiously limning his new model, a male rhino named Francois.
     Why rhino horns?  Aside from their obvious phallicism, and the whole matter of feeling “horny,” Dali’s fascination for the horns appeared to have something to do with his assumption that rhino horns, which are formed according to logarithmic spirals, represented a kind of “divine, natural perfection,” echoed, for him, the Vermeer painting.