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Salvador Dalí’s Tarot Cards
Courtesy of Taschen

You can now do tarot readings with Salvador Dalí

The artist’s set of tarot cards have been re-released three decades after the were first created

When Salvador Dalí was five years old, he was taken to visit the graveside of his deceased brother, also named Salvador. There, his parents told him that he was the reincarnation of their lost child, which he eventually came to believe, spurring a lifelong fascination with alternative forces beyond the earthly and heavenly realms. 

Although best remembered for his “Lobster Telephone” (1936), melting clocks, and gravity-defying moustache, the surrealist artist also had a deep-rooted penchant for the occult. Evidence of this fascination can be traced throughout his career, most famously in his revolutionary technique, “paranoiac-critical”. This self-induced hallucinatory state would reputedly tap into the subconscious mind to induce paranoia and bring forth information from another realm for artistic use. His 1979 painting “The Search for the Fourth Dimension”, for instance, depicts an alternate reality filled with spectral beings from across history and a glowing pentagram etched into the face of a cave – a haunting glimpse into the man's brain.

It was during the New Age boom of the 1970s, that Dalí was commissioned to create a custom deck of Tarot cards for the James Bond film Live and Let Die. However, the project fell through after Dalí requested an eye-watering rate for the task. Despite this, the artist continued to work on the cards as a passion project, and in 1984 a limited edition batch was published. These cards have recently been resurrected by publisher Taschen. With a revitalised public interest in alternative spiritualities that reach beyond the patriarchies of monotheistic religions, this tarot feels more relevant than ever.

Each of the 78 cards display unique, colourful designs true to the artist’s eccentric oeuvre, eclectically combining recognisable faces from the art history archives with occultism and the notorious Dalí wit. Notable cards include himself cast as the magician; Catherine De Medici (infamous for reputedly poisoning her enemies) as – ironically – the Queen of Cups, and sporting a villainous moustache to boot; and his wife Gala, who apparently invigorated his interest in mysticism, as the Empress. In a nod towards the Bond movies, he also used the omnipotent face of Sean Connery for the Emperor.

The revived tarot cards come with a booklet written by Johannes Fiebig, a leading tarot author and expert in the field of psychological interpretation. Alongside an introduction about Dalí himself, this crucially includes a guide, explaining the meaning of each card and how to properly perform readings. Even beyond the ephemeral realm, Dalí continues to stay one step ahead of the game, contributing to culture in the most 2019 way.

Available now from Taschen