adaques, Spain, has been home and/or playground to probably every artist of note of the past century, including Picasso, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Luis Bunuel, John Cage, Garcia Lorca, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Rene Magritte, Juan Miro, Man Ray, Walt Disney, and even Albert Einstein, who went there on holiday to play his violin.
Adding to its many attractions at the time of Venosa's arrival was the presence of the great Maestro himself, Salvador Dali, with whom Venosa was fortunate to spend many interesting moments from his first visit in July 1972 until Dali's departure from Cadaques in 1980.
As Venosa writes in Noospheres:
"Contrary to expectations, Dali was quite accessible. All you had to do was get him on the telephone - which was easy enough as he was listed in the local directory - and answer his first question which was always, 'Are you beautiful?' If your reply was a confident 'Yes!' you would be invited to show up at his Port Lligat home at 7:00 p.m. to sit beside his phallic-shaped swimming pool and drink pink champagne with aristocrats, vagabonds, and some of the most interesting people you'd ever hope to meet.
Venosa entering the inauguration event of the Dali Museum in the 28 Sept. 1974.
With Salvador Dali in Figueras, Spain during the making of the movie 'Dalineations', ca. 1974
Venosa with friends in Dal's Garden
HR GIGER in Cadaques
His meeting with Salvador Dali, Alexandro Jodorowsky, the DUNE movie project, and Alien.
HR Giger and Robert Venosa had met while exhibiting together during the Art Basel in the 1970s, together with a select group of Fantastic Realists and visionary artists such as Ernst Fuchs, Mati Klarwein, De Es and Vali Meyers.
When Robert Venosa left his native New York City and found a new home in Cadaques, Spain in the early 70s, he became a regular with his ‘neighbor’ Salvador Dali.
Their relationship was based on exchanging exciting trends in art and consciousness. Venosa took great pleasure in introducing him to talented and interesting new artists, so in 1975 he showed Dali an art catalog by the Swiss artist, Hans Ruedi Giger. Impressed by his work, Dali expressed interest in meeting him in person.
Here's what happened next, based on personal accounts, various articles, and websites:
“Venosa had taken Giger’s catalog to show him, and asked Dali what he thought of it, Dali approved and then would show the catalog to Alejandro Jodorowsky who intended to film Frank Herbert’s book Dune and was there trying to get Dali interested in it. ...This unnamed catalog would eventually be referred to by Giger as his "Necronomicon" although the book would not be published for a while longer.”
Robert called ‘Giger’ immediately to let him know that Dali had said to him: “You tell I’m to come here.” The next day HR Giger arrived in Cadaques to meet Dali in his house in Port Liggat, Spain.
Venosa and Giger at 'St. Pere De Rosa', Spain in 1975
"I first heard about 'Dune' through Bob Venosa, an American painter of fantastic realism who lived in Cadaqués with his family and was a frequent visitor at Salvador Dali's house. It was a project for a three-hour 70 mm science fiction film, in which Dali was to play a leading role for a fee of $100,000 an hour (he was later invited to leave the film because of his pro-Franco statements). Bob Venosa telephoned me to say that the director Alejandro Jodorowsky, to whom Dali had shown my catalogue, was interested in my work. So I went to Spain, but unfortunately, Jodorowsky had already left.
Dali, however, showed a polite interest in my work and introduced his wife Gala, describing her as a specialist in monsters and nightmares….”
HR Giger - https://www.duneinfo.com/unseen/hr-giger
Above: Venosa with HR Giger in his home/studio in Cadaques, 1975
Left: Robert and Jutta Venosa in Cadaques.
Following Giger's meeting with Dali, and his stay with Venosa in Cadaques, a synchronistic snowball effect took its course.
HR Giger eventually met Alexandro Jodorowsky who wanted to sign up the special effects expert Dan O’Bannon (Dark Star) for his DUNE movie project.
“It was a time for major discoveries for Dan and he found himself then in contact with some remarkable fantasy artists, Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Robert Venosa, and Chris Foss who were very big names back then, and he was also to discover their work since they were all working on the Dune project.”
After various meetings, Giger was eventually chosen by Jodorowsky to be the perfect match for the Harkonen castle concept designs which initially fell into the hands of Dino De Laurentis, via Dan O’ Brian."
“Dino de Laurentis was now in possession of the rights to Dune. He was interested in Ridley Scott as the director and me for the production designer. After my prior cooperation on the film in 1975 with Jodorowsky…”
HR GIGER - https://www.duneinfo.com/unseen/hr-giger)
“Within the space of a few months, Jodorowsky’s Dune project fell apart, leaving its artists and filmmakers to float back to their respective countries…As O’Bannon recovered from the disappointment of Dune, old story ideas began to resurface in his mind. He began working again on a script called Memory, ..The story gradually evolved into a script first called Starbeast, and then called Alien. … O’Bannon may have still been influenced by Giger’s imagery – something he later admitted on the set of Alien in 1978…“His paintings (Giger’s) had a profound effect on me. I had never seen anything so horrible and yet quite so beautiful in my life. And so I ended up writing a script about a Giger monster.”…”
…Through a series of fortunate events, the Alien script wound up in the hands of producers at Brandywine…
By this time,… a collection of HR Giger’s paintings had been published under the title Necronomicon. It was this book that O’Bannon handed over to director Ridley Scott, recently appointed by Brandywine following the indie success of his low-budget debut, The Duellists. The book was opened on a specific painting called Necronom IV. It depicted in profile a grotesque creature, insectoid yet also mechanical….”
From these events forward HR Giger would eventually become an icon in the movie industry for designing the ‘Alien’ monster and win an Oscar for his artistic achievements.
And the rest is history.
Cadaques ART SCENE
Robert Venosa during a visit with the Catalan painter Antonio Pitchot in his home/studio in Cadaques, Spain in 1975.
Later, señor Pinchot would become the director of the Dali Museum in Figueras, Spain.
During his early years in Cadaques, Robert Venosa opened two galleries:
'Galeria LUNA' and 'Galeria ALMEMBIC'.
This invitation was hand-designed in the style of the time for a group exhibition in 1979.
The French artist, Alain Margotton, in front of the 'Galeria Luna' window, 1979.
On the right: The location of the earlier 'Galerie Alembic'
in one of the picturesque old-town Cadaques streets.
(Both photos by Alain Margotton)