Edward James - Eccentric and patron of Surrealism
26 April 2011
I've always been interested in Edward James and recently I've been reading his autobiography 'Swans Reflecting Elephants'. I'm enjoying it very much because he was such an interesting man who lead an eventful life.
James was stupendously wealthy, and a true British eccentric who loved the arts. He developed very close relationships with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Leonora Carrington, Paul Nash, Dorothea Tanning and Dali. James became Dali's patron for over a year and the Lobster Telephone and sofa of Mae West's lips were designed for Edward James's house, West Dean in Sussex. I'm not a particular fan of Dali and find lots of Surrealist work deeply unattractive - but Edward James is a true original so he's interesting to me.
After a scandalous divorce, James escaped to Mexico and bought a 75 acre ranch in Xilitla which became the site of his main project in life. Until his death he dedicated himself to creating a countryside jungle filled with concrete architecture-sculpture. 68 masons were on his payroll and worked on this Surrealist folly. The house and grounds are now a hotel, I'd like to go and have a look around there one day. I like these photos, they look like they could be from the 19th century.