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 Conquest of the Irrational
 



1936-1939




 


Dali and Gala, 1937. Photograph: Man Ray

 


Civil War in Spain
 

In 1936, Spain was being torn apart by civil war. Dali and Gala had to do without their retreats to Port Lligat. Instead they travelled around Europe, and spent some time living in Italy. The influence of the Renaissance masters Dali saw in the great art galleries of Florence and Rome is clearly apparent in the groups of figures he subsequently used in his paintings in order to establish multiple images, as in Spain or The Invention of the Monsters. The latter is one of his paintings on the subject of "premonitions of war": the artist explained that the foreground double figure holding a butterfly and hourglass was the Pre-Raphaelite version of the double portrait of Dali and Gala immediately behind it. True to his principle of taking no interest in politics, Dali viewed the civil war that was tormenting his country merely as a delirium of edibles. He observed it as an entomologist might observe ants or grasshoppers. To him it was natural history; to Picasso, by contrast, it was political reality. What Guernica was for Picasso, The Burning Giraffe and Soft Construction with Boiled Beans - Premonition of Civil War were for Dali. Dali was not interested in the war as such. His only interest was in the premonitions recorded in his paintings: "Six months food come to seem compulsive - "which shows a huge human body, all arms and legs deliriously squeezing each other." Cooking is always associated with smells. In the Secret Life Dali wrote eloquently of smells: "From all parts of martyred Spain rose a smell of incense, of chasubles, of burned curates' fat and of quartered spiritual flesh, which mingled with the smell of hair dripping with the sweat of promiscuity from that other flesh, concupiscent and as paroxysmally quartered, of the mobs fornicating among themselves and with death."

 

 


Spain
1938

 

 


Study for "Spain"
1936

 

 


The Invention of the Monsters
1937

 

 


Creation of the Monsters
1937

 

 


The Burning Giraffe
1937

 

 


Burning Giraffe
1937

 

 


The Woman in Flames
1937

 

 


Soft Construction with Boiled Beans - Premonition of Civil War
1936

 

 


Study for "Premonition of Civil War"
1935

 


Study for "Premonition of Civil War"
1935

 

Study for "Premonition of Civil War"
1935

 
 


Autumn Cannibalism
1936

 

 


Cannibalism of the Objects
1937

 

 


Drawers Cannibalism (Composition with Drawers)
1937

 

 


Untitled - Hysterical Scene
1937

 

 


The Hysterical Arch
1937

 

 

But in respect of his political stance, Dali did concede: "I was definitely not a historic man. On the contrary, I felt myself essentially anti-historic and apolitical. Either I was too much ahead of my time or much too far behind, but never contemporaneous with ping-pong-playing men." Dali wrote: "The Spanish Civil War changed none of my ideas. On the contrary, it endowed their evolution with a decisive rigor. Horror and aversion for every kind of revolution assumed in me an almost pathological form. Nor did I want to be called a reactionary. This I was not: I did not 'react' - which is an attribute of unthinking matter. For I simply continued to think, and I did not want to be called anything but Dali. But already the hyena of public opinion 'was slinking around me, demanding of me with the drooling menace of its expectant teeth that I make up my mind at last, that I become Stalinist or Hitlerite. No! No! No! and a thousand times no! I was going to continue to be as always and until I died, Dalinian and only Dalinian! I believed neither in the communist revolution nor in the national-socialist revolution, nor i n any other kind of revolution. I believed only in the supreme reality of tradition [...] If revolutions are interesting it is solely because in revolutionizing they disinter and recover fragments of the tradition that was believed dead because it had been forgotten, and that needed simply the spasm of revolutionary convulsions to make them emerge, so that they might live anew. And through the revolution of the Spanish Civil War there was going to be rediscovered nothing less than the authentic Catholic tradition peculiar to Spam [...] All — atheists, believers, saints, criminals, grave-openers and grave-diggers, executioners and martyrs - all fought with the unique courage and pride of the crusaders of faith. For all were Spaniards."

 

 
Perspectives
1937

 

 
Average Pagan Landscape
1937

 

 
Knights of Death
1937

 
 

His friend Garcia Lorca was shot in his hometown of Granada which was under occupation by Franco's forces. ("This was ignoble, for they knew as well as I that Lorca was by essence the most apolitical person on earth. Lorca did not die as a symbol of one or another political ideology, he died as the propitiatory victim of that total and integral phenomenon that was the revolutionary confusion.") Meanwhile, Dali was studying the Renaissance. He planned to be the first advocate of the Renaissance after the war. "The disasters of war and revolution in which my country was plunged only intensified the wholly initial violence of my aesthetic passion, and while my country was interrogating death and destruction, I was interrogating that other sphinx, of the imminent European 'becoming', that of the Renaissance." His attitude was interpreted as typical Dali: superficial and frivolous. In fact, when anarchists shot three of his Port Lligat fisherman friends, Dali wondered: "Would I finally have to make up my mind to return to Spain, and share the fate of those who were close to me?" It has to be admitted that, once he had slept on the question, Dali decided that he wouldn't have to return.

 

 


Narcissus and the Bulb
 

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus was Dali's first painting to be done entirely in accordance with the paranoiac-critical method. Breton, in What is Surrealism?, paid tribute to Dali's method, seeing it as an instrument of the first importance, capable of use in painting, poetry, film, the making of Surrealist artefacts, fashion, sculpture, art history, and indeed any form of interpretation.

The painting meant a great deal to Dali. He observed that if one gazed at the figure of Narcissus for some time, at a slight distance, he gradually disappeared; and at that moment the metamorphosis of the myth occurred. Suddenly, Narcissus was a hand, rising out of his own reflection. That hand was holding in its fingertips the egg, seed or bulb from which the new narcissus (or: the daffodil) would be born. Beside it was a stone sculpture of a hand holding a narcissus sprouted and in flower. To Dali's way of thinking, the painting represented the first occasion on which a Surrealist work had offered a consistent interpretation of an irrational subject. The paranoiac-critical method was setting out to establish an indestructible assembly of exact details such as Stendhal demanded if an account were to be given of the architecture of St. Peter's in Rome (Dali's analogy).

 


Metamorphosis of Narcissus
1937


 


 

 


Study for "The Metamorphosis of Narcissus"
1937

 


Swans Reflecting Elephants
1937

 

 

The lyrical quality of poetic images is only of philosophical significance if they aspire to the same precision as mathematics, according to Dali. Poets are as obliged to supply proof as scientists. In the case of Narcissus, a Cataloman saying is apt: if someone is said to have a bulb in the head, it is the equivalent of having a complex in the language of psychoanalysis - and a bulb, of course, can produce a flower. At this point in Dali's commentary on The Metamorphosis of Narcissus he waxed lyrical, addressing Narcissus directly: "Do you understand, Narcissus? Symmetry, that divine hypnosis of the spirit, is already filling your head with the incurable, atavistic, slow sleep of plants, drying out the leathery kernel of your imminent metamorphosis in your brain. The seed that was in your head has fallen into the water. Man becomes plant once more, through the heavy sleep of exhaustion, and the gods through the transparent hypnosis of their passions. Narcissus, you are so motionless one might think you asleep. If you were the rough, dark Hercules, one would say: he is sleeping like a log, like a Herculean oak. But you, Narcissus, who are made of the shy perfumed essences of transparent youth, are sleeping like a waterflower. Now, as the great mystery approaches and the metamorphosis is shortly to be accomplished, Narcissus, motionless, as slow of digestion as carnivorous plants, is becoming invisible. Only the hallcinatory oval of his white head remains, his head grown more tender, his chrysalis head full of biological intent, his head held on fingertips above the water, by the fingertips of a senseless, terrible hand, the shit-eating hand, the deadly hand of his own reflection. When that head splits, when that head is fissured, when that head breaks open, the flower will be there, Narcissus, Gala - my Narcissus."

 

 


Palladio's Thalia Corridor
1937

 


Palladio's Corridor of Dramatic Surprise
1938

 

 


Study for "The False Inspection" (False Perspective)
1937

 

 

One day a young psychiatrist phoned Dali, wanting to discuss an article Dali had contributed to Minotaure on the phenomenon of paranoia. The young man was Jacques Lacan. "We were surprised to discover that our views were equally opposed, and for the same reasons, to the constitutionalist theories then almost unanimously accepted." Both names, Lacan's and Dali's, have become inseparable from the history of enquiry into paranoia: the artist's through his paranoiac-critical method, the psychiatrist's initially through the brilliant doctoral thesis that made him famous in October 1932. As Patrice Schmitt has observed: "Paranoia, in Dali's understanding, is the very opposite of hallucination. It is an active method. It implies critique. It has exact meanings and a phenomenological dimension. Within the Surrealist movement, it stood opposed to automatism. Automatism was practised in automatic writing and games of consequences, to which Dali had introduced the Surrealists [...] Lacan, for his part, opposed automatism in his thesis, since it transposed paranoiac interpretation into an organic response; instead, he favoured phenomenological meaning. If we compare the two approaches, we see that for Lacan the interpretative moment is already an act of hallucination, but in fact that equivalence of hallucination and interpretation is the very essence of the phenomenon. For both Dali and Lacan, paranoia is pseudo-hallucinatory: this is their first link. [...] Dali's dual-image pictures are the clearest demonstration that delirium and interpretation are one and the same. In the dual image, the clear distinctions of classicism come to seem superannuated and incomprehensible, since delirium and interpretation are simultaneous moments of the same type." Be that as it may, when Dali described his meeting with the young Lacan in the Secret Life what troubled him most was the fact that throughout their interview, as he afterwards realized, he had had a square of white paper sticking to the tip of his nose.

 

When Picasso sent Dali a postcard showing a number of blacks, Dali saw that, considered a certain way, it could be viewed as a face, and promptly took the card as his starting point for the Paranoiac Visage. It would be false, in this example, to distinguish between two moments: the wrong interpretation of the card, and then a rational delirium following. Rather, the two aspects of the process are of identical, simultaneous importance. This was the point Dali and Lacan were in agreement on.
 


The Rock at Caoe Creus known at the sleeping rock.
Geology sleeps without cease, 1937
 

Of Sleep, on one level an almost exact painting of a rock at Cadaques, Dali wrote in the tenth issue of Minotaure (winter 1937): "Thanks to the glorious paranoiac-critical method we are obtaining ever more new, exact details. Sleep is a truly monstrous chrysalis, its morphology and nostalgia propped on eleven crutches, each of which is also a chrysalis and should be examined separately. " Dali alluded to Michelangelo's spiral of sleep, and declared that Gaudi had been right on this matter as on so many others. In the Secret Life he also reportedthat he had often imagined sleep as a huge, heavy head with a long, thin body balanced on the crutches of reality. If ever those crutches break, wrote Dali, we feel we are falling: it is the familiar sense of tumbling into vast vacancy at that moment when sleep overcomes us. And when we suddenly awaken, he added, we may not necessarily always realize that we are reliving the feeling of expulsion that so traumatized us at birth.
 


Sleep
1937

 


Creation of the Monsters
1937


 

Dinner in the Desert Lighted by Giraffes on Fire
1937


 

Surrealist Gondola Above Burning Bicycles
(Drawing for a Film Project with the Marx Brothers)
1937


 

Surrealist Dinner on a Bed (Drawing for a Film Project with the Marx Brothers)
1937


 

How Skyscrapers Will Look in 1987 (Drawing for "American Weekly")
1937



 

Imaginary Portrait of Lautreamont at the Age of Nineteen
1937


 

Queen Salome
1937


 

Untitled - Lamp with Drawers (Drawing for an interior)
1937

Untitled - Standard Lamp With Crutches (Drawing for an interior)
1937

Discuss Art

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

 
| privacy