Art of the 20th Century



 



Art Styles in 20th century Art Map



 

   

 

 

 

 



Salvador Dali




If You Act the Genius, You Will Be One!  1910-1928
The Proof of Love  1929-1935
The Conguest of the Irrational 1936-1939
The Triumph of Avida Dollars  1939-1946
The Mystical Manifesto  1946-1962
Paths to Immortality  1962-1989

_______

appendix

Illustrations:
Biblia Sacrata, Marquis de Sade, Faust, The Art of Love,
Don Quixote, Divine Comedy, Decameron,
Casanova, Les Caprices de Goya

 


 





The Proof of Love



1929 - 1935




 

 

Disowned
 

But clouds were gathering in the sky above the idyll. First Dali left Gala for the time being, to collect money from Goemans: most of his pictures had been sold, for prices between 6,000 and 12,000 francs. Then he had to face the family storm that was brewing back in Figueras.

For a long time, Dali was secretive about the origins of the breach with his family, the reasons why he was expelled from their midst; and doubtless the motive for his secrecy was consideration for his father. His 1933 picture The Enigma of William Tell suggests an explanation: "William Tell is my father and the little child in his arms is myself; instead of an apple I have a raw cutlet on my head. He is planning to eat me. A tiny nut by his foot contains a tiny child, the image of my wife Gala. She is under constant threat from this foot. Because if the foot moves only very slightly, it can crush the nut." The painting shows Dali settling accounts with his father, who had disowned him because he was living with a divorcee (i.e. Eluard's ex-wife, as Gala was by then). A second reason for Dalis breach with his father was doubtless the picture of the Sacred Heart on which he had written, "Sometimes I spit on the picture of my mother for the fun of it." Eugenio d'Ors, a Spanish art critic, described this sacrilege in an article he published in a Barcelona daily paper. Dali's father, outraged by the blasphemy and by the insult offered to the memory of a dead, beloved wife and mother, never forgave his son.

 



The Surrealist group photographed at Tristan Tzara's house, about 1930.
From left to right: Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard, Andre Breton, Hans Arp, Salvador Dali,
Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Rene Crevel, and Man Ray.



 

Photomontage by Daly for the frontispiece of his book "L'amour et la memoire" (Love and Memory).
Bunuel took the photo of Dali in 1929 and Dali took that of Gala in 1931



 

Title page of "La Femme visible" with Gala's eyes
1930

The Immaculate Conception, by Andre Breton and Paul Eluard,
with illustrations by Dali
1930


 
 
Andre Breton, the Great Anteater
1929-31


 
 
Frontispiece for "Le Revolver Ii, Cheveux Blancs" by Andre Breton
1932


 

Pyre. Poster Design for the 10th Anniversary
of the French Communist Party
1930



 





 

 


The Font
1930

 


Combinations (or The Complete Dalinian Phantasms: Ants, Keys, Nails)
1931

 


The Ghost of the Evening
1930

 

 


The Hero and Victor
 

In his Diary of a Genius, one of Dali's chapter headings is a quotation from Freud: "The hero is the man who resists his father's authority and overcomes it." Greatly though Dali admired his charismatic and humane father, he had to make the break and turn his back on the years of his youth. However, he loved his chalk-white village in the sun more than anywhere else and refused even to look at other landscapes - which meant he had to return as soon as possible. With the proceeds of The Old Age of William Tell he bought a tumbledown fisherman's hut in a sheltered bay near Cadaques, at Port Lligat (the name means "harbour secured with a knot"), planning to move there with Gala. It was to be the landscape Dali most frequently painted.

Once he knew that an irreparable breach had been made and that he must be a stranger to his father's house, Dali reacted by cutting his hair — his way of going in sackcloth and ashes. "But I did more than this - I had my head completely shaved. I went and buried the pile of my black hair in a hole I had dug on the beach for this purpose, and in which I interred at the same time the pile of empty shells of the urchins I had eaten at noon. Having done this I climbed up on a small hill from which one overlooks the whole village of Cadaques, and there, sitting under the olive trees, I spent two long hours contemplating that panorama of my childhood, of my adolescence, and of my present."

Dali's father, for his part, declared that within a week his son would be back in Figueras, in need of a good de-lousing, to beg forgiveness. But he had reckoned without Gala and her clear-eyed capacity to sit things out. And when Dali did finally return, it was crowned with laurels: the hero who had won a victory over his father, in classic Freudian style.

 






The Old Age of William Tell
1931

 


William Tell
1930


 

The Average Bureaucrat
1930


 

Portrait of Mr. Emilio Terry (unfinished)
1930


 

The Hand - Remorse
1930


 

 


Hard Rocks and Soft Watches
 

Great masterworks are born of pain. In his cottage at Port Lligat, Dali now set about painting like one possessed. Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion was surely the major work of this period; while The Invisible Man is the first double-image picture of a man and a 'woman, a fetish to protect the two lovers, Dali and Gala, from Dali's father and other dangers. Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion not only examines Dali's recurring theme of the persistence of desire, but is also an investigation of multiple-image possibilities such as the artist was to explore over and over again in the sequel. The multiple image, to Dali's way of thinking, could extend the "paranoiac" process by adding a second and even third visual dimension: the set of possible dimensions or associations was limited only by the "paranoiac" capacity of thought itself. If there are obvious erotic meanings in the groups of figures busy at fellatio, the absence of bright colours in the picture and the geological character of the figures have an oddly contrapuntal effect. Dali commented that his models looked like boats being hawled by weak, fossilized fishermen.

Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion, the product of Dali's contemplative retreat at Cape Creus, was exhibited at the Galerie Colle. Dali had just signed a new contract with dealers George Keller and Pierre Colle. The picture was bought by the Vicomte de Noailles. Dali in fact did three versions of it, since he attached considerable importance to the subject; but he gave different titles to them. One of the three 'was destroyed in 1930 during the demonstrations that accompanied the premiere of the film L'Age d'Or at Studio 28 in Paris.

 


Invisible Sleeping Woman
1930


 

Invisible Sleeping Woman
1930


 

Study for "Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion" and for "Paranoiac Woman-Horse"
1929-30


 

Study for "Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion"
1930


 

Study for "Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion"
1930


 

Paranoiac Woman-Horse
1930


 

Vertigo
1930


 

Oedipus Complex
1930

 


Head of Hair
1930


 

 

This was also the period of Dali's famous soft watches. The painting Soft Watches, subsequently retitled The Persistence of Memory, can stand as an illustration of Dali's theory of "hardness" and "softness", which was central to his thinking at that time. The principle of "hardness" involved such things as the rocks and cliffs at Cape Creus, where the Pyrenees meet the sea. It was there that Dali and Gala withdrew from the turmoil of the age. "The long, meditative contemplation of those rocks" played a vital part in the development of his "morphological esthetics of soft and hard" - which corresponds to the aesthetic of Gaudi's Mediterranean Gothic. If we compare Dali's beloved landscape with Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church or Guell Park in Barcelona, it is difficult to imagine that the architectural genius, Dali's fellow Catalonian, should not have seen the tattered, craggy rocks and cliffs of Cape Creus too. Dali saw in them his "principle of paranoiac metamorphosis" in tangible form. "All the images capable of being suggested by the complexity of their innumerable irregularities appear successively and by turn as you change your position. This was so objectifiable that the fishermen of the region had since time immemorial baptized each of these imposing conglomerations - the camel, the eagle, the anvil, the monk, the dead woman, the lion's head. [...] I discovered in this perpetual disguise the profound meaning of that modesty of nature which Heraclitus referred to in his enigmatic phrase, 'Nature likes to conceal herself. [...] Watching the 'stirring' of the forms of those motionless rocks, I meditated on my own rocks, those of my thought. I should have liked them to be like those outside - relativistic, changing at the slightest displacement in the space of the spirit, becoming constantly their own opposite, dissembling, ambivalent, hypocritical, disguised, vague and concrete, without dream, without 'mist of wonder', measurable, observable, physical, objective, material and hard as granite. In the past there had been three philosophic antecedents of what I aspired to build in my own brain: the Greek Sophists, the Jesuitical thought of Spain, founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and the dialectics of Hegel in Germany - the latter, unfortunately, lacked irony, which is the essentially esthetic element of thought; moreover it 'threatened revolution' [...]" What better way could there be of illustrating the principle of "softness" in contrast to "hardness" than by examining the history of the soft watches - which is at once a history of Dali's personality: "Instead of hardening me, as life had planned, Gala [...] succeeded in building for me a shell to protect the tender nakedness of the Bernard the Hermit that I was, so that while in relation to the outside world I assumed more and more the appearance of a fortress, within myself I could continue to grow old in the soft, and in the supersoft. And the day I decided to paint watches, I painted them soft. It was on an evening when I felt tired, and had a slight headache, which is extremely rare with me. We were to go to a moving picture with some friends, and at the last moment I decided not to go. Gala would go with them, and I would stay home and go to bed early.

 


Premature Ossification of a Railway Station
1930

 


The Persistence of Memory
1931

 

 

 We had topped off our meal "with a very strong Camembert, and after everyone had gone I remained for a long time seated at the table meditating on the philosophic problems of the 'supersoft' which the cheese presented to my mind. I got up and went into my studio, where I lit the light in order to cast a final glance, as is my habit, at the picture I was in the midst of painting. This picture represented a landscape near Port Lligat, whose rocks were lit by a transparent and melancholy twilight; in the foreground an olive tree with its branches cut, and without leaves. I knew that the atmosphere which I had succeeded in creating with this landscape was to serve as a setting for some idea, for some surprising image, but I did not in the least know what it was going to be. I was about to turn out the light, when instantaneously I 'saw' the solution. I saw two soft watches, one of them hanging lamentably on the branch of the olive tree. In spite of the fact that my headache had increased to the point of becoming very painful, I avidly prepared my palette and set to work. When Gala returned from the theatre two hours later the picture, which was to be one of my most famous, was completed." Not long after, the American dealer Julien Levy bought Soft Watches (as the painting was then called). And it was Levy who was destined to make Dali famous in the United States - and thus lay the foundation stone of his later fortune. He found the picture unusual - but not to the public taste, and therefore unsaleable. It turned out that in this he was completely "wrong: the painting changed hands time after time, finally ending up in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
 

 


Chocolate
1930

 


Vegetable Metamorphosis
1931


 

Olive
1931


 

Symbiosis of a Head of Seashells
1931


 

Le Spectre et le Fantome
1931

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy