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 Mystical Manifesto


 

1946-1962



 


Dali

The Raphaelesque Madonna itself was no longer the Madonna of a profound belief as had been that of the Sienese masters. In the age of Leonardo da Vinci, the other-worldly Christian vision began to crumble under the impact of scientific thought. The constructivist Gabo is conscious of this process when he writes: 'At first sight it seems unlikely that an analogy can be drawn between a scientific work of Copernicus and a picture by Raphael, and yet it is not difficult to discover the tie between them. In fact Copernicus' scientific theory of the world is coincident with Raphael's conception in art. Raphael would never have dared to take the naturalistic image of his famous Florentine pastry cook as a model for the Holy Mary if he had not belonged to the generation which was already prepared to abandon the geocentrical theory of the Universe.' In the artistic concept of Raphael there is no longer any trace of the mythological religious mysticism of the previous century as there is no longer any trace of this mysticism in Copernicus' book, Revolution of the Celestial Orbits. Dali uses a vulgarized, deidealized Raphaelesque type with pretty features. The beautiful head explodes as it were under the bombardment of Sperma, 'which by way of a magnificent trick of the artist are collected inside the head on the stalk of an ear of corn, the symbol of Demeter, of fertility and growth. Both Munch and Dali give the metamorphosis of the archetypal idea of immaculate womanhood in its Gothic and Renaissance shape; they demonstrate the transformation of a world conception."
 


Explosive Madonna
1951

 
 
Madonna in Particles
1952

 

 
Madonna in Particles
1952

 
 
Raphaelesque Dynamics
1952

 
 
The Maximum Speed of Raphael's Madonna
1954

 
 
Madonna and Particle Child (Nuclear Drawing)
1954

 

 
Portrait of Gala with Rhinocerotic Symptoms
1954

 

 
Microphysical Madonna
1954


 
 
Raphaelesque Head Exploding
1951

 
 
Celestial Coronation
1951

 

 

In an afterword to his Secret Life, Dali remarked: "At this moment I do not yet have faith, and I fear I shall die without heaven." In May 1952, in Liturgical Arts, he spelt out more clearly the creed that was to underpin his future development as an artist, a conviction that in painting a genius without faith was of greater value than a believer without genius. His old friend the couturier and himself were at one, in an age that was seeing the decline of religious art, in feeling that geniuses without faith were more desirable than believers without genius. They were convinced (averred Dali) that even atheists or members of the Communist Party (such as Picasso) - geniuses, in a word - could produce important religious works of art if they so desired. And Dali said that not a day passed but he prayed that Picasso would renounce Communism and turn to Spanish mysticism, which one really might think was in his blood, after all. Of course there was a daemonic danger for religious art if it availed itself of atheist artists; the best thing would undoubtedly be for religious art to be created, as it was in the Renaissance, by artists whose faith was the equal of their genius, such as Zurbaran, El Greco, Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael. Catholics believed in the freedom of the human soul, said Dali, which was the reason why Catholicism, in its universality, must accept the exploration of any and every authentic spirituality, regardless of whether it was at one with the Catholic religion. And even if the Catholic Church was in every respect the very opposite of Communism, which was even capable of spurning music for political reasons, that need be no obstacle! One thing was for sure: modern art embodied the worst consequences of materialism, which produced pure decorativeness. The purely decorative "was safe from certain dangers, such as failure in broaching great religious themes; but so-called abstract artists (Dali continued) were at bottom artists who believed in nothing whatsoever. To believe in nothing led inevitably to non-representational, non-figurative painting. Those who believed in nothing would paint nothing too - or very nearly nothing. That very nearly nothing could at times produce happy finds, or attractive associations of form and colour; and therefore it was perfectly legitimate to employ this kind of art in the service of the decorative when it had no meaning whatsoever, as in patterns on drapes or church windows, where the sole function was to establish an atmosphere. Such an atmosphere might (for instance) be amply enjoyed in certain Spanish churches where the geometrical and polychromatic residue of Moorish culture (such as survived the post-reconquest destruction) afforded rich pleasures to the eye. But in general, Dali for his part asserted that he 'was firmly convinced that the end of materialism 'was nigh. The signs were apparent, he declared, in the extraordinary progress made in nuclear physics, a science he felt would lead the younger generation back to religious faith and to mysticism. Dali sensed an overwhelming force of renewal was about to break upon modern painting, a reaction to present-day materialism that would provide figurative keys to a new religious cosmology.

 






Rhinocerotic Disintegration of Illissus of Phidias
1954

 

 

Henceforth, in works such as Feather Equilibrium or Nuclear Cross, Dali's point of reference was always the Mystical Manifesto - or, as he later referred to it (with greater precision), his Anti-Matter Manifesto. His logic, as always, was irrefutable: if physicists were producing anti-matter, why should not painters, who already specialized in depicting angels, be permitted to paint it? In the Surrealist period, said Dali, he had been out to create the iconography of an inner world, the realm of Father Freud. He had succeeded. Now the outer world of physics had outstripped that of psychology, and Heisenberg was his new father. Ever since he had had to spend a month and a half in hospital recuperating from an appendicitis operation, during which time he had done a lot of reading, Dali had been enthusiastic about the new physics - not least because he was convinced that he was at least as intelligent as the scientists, since he had arrived at the same conclusions independently (he claimed). Hence his admiration for Heisenberg. Dali's atomic approach to art covered a multitude of techniques, from molecular structural precision to the gelatinous viscosity of the primaeval soup. His aim was invariably to integrate the discoveries and experiences of modern art into the great classical tradition. The latest microphysical structures - such as those of Klein, Matthieu or Tapies - cried out to be redeployed in painting, since they represented none other than what the brush stroke represented in the age of Velazquez (of whom Quevedo, the incomparable Spanish writer, had said he painted with dabs of sunlight).

 


The Disintegration of Persistence of Memory
1952

 

 


Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion
1954

 

 


Sketch for "Soft Watch, Exploding into 888 Pieces after Twenty
Years of Complete Motionlessness"
1954

 

 

Mysticism and good draughtsmanship were the twin roads to salvation by which Salvador, the appointed saviour of modern art, was going to achieve a renewal of aesthetics. Dali felt that Picasso's crusade had paved the way for the royal arrival of Salvador's new mystic presence. In 1951, he declared, there could be no experiences more subversive for an cx-Surrealist than, first, to become a mystic, and, second, to be able to draw. And both sources of strength were his, Dalfs. Catalonia, he declared, had produced three geniuses: Raymond de Sebond, author of the Tbeologie naturelle; Gaudi, the great architect of Mediterranean Neo-Gothic; and Salvador Dali, inventor of the new paranoiac-critical mysticism and, as his very name suggested, saviour of art.

Daliman mysticism was founded upon the metaphysical spirituality of quantum physics in particular, and on morphology in general. Form was a reaction of matter to inquisitorial compulsions from without. Beauty, for Dali, was always an extreme spasm in a long and unremitting inquisitorial process. Freedom was non-form. Every rose grew to perfection in a prison. The finest architecture of the human soul was the temple of San Pietro, which recalled the divine Bramante in Rome, and El Esconal in Spam - both, according to Dali, conceived in a spirit of ecstasy. Ecstasy was the polar opposite of academicism, the one incorruptible, the other corruptible.
 

 


Equestrian Molecular Figure
1952

 

 

Dali's advice to would-be artists was to paint what they saw in nature, as honestly as possible. He advised use of Renaissance technique, since it represented the peak of achievement in visual representation. The decadence of modern painting came from scepticism and the lack of faith, and these derived in turn from rationalism, positivism, belief in progress, and mechanistic or dialectical materialism. Dali urged Pythagoras, Heraclitus, the limpid aesthetics of Luca Pacioli, and St. John of the Cross, upon the attention of artists.

Dali was fascinated by the modern insight that matter was continually in a state of process, dematenalizing and dissolving constantly. This, he felt, proved the spirituality of substance. And the physical light of Daliman paranoiac-critical activity, he said, was similarly a thing of waves and particles.

 


Dali Nude
1954

 

 

Ever since the theory of relativity had banished Time from its throne and relegated it to a relative function (in the spirit of Heraclitus, who said "Time is a child", and of Dali's famous soft watches), and ever since the other complex insights of twentieth century physics, it had been an open secret that the great problem facing metaphysics was the nature of substance. In aesthetics, it was mystics alone (asserted Dali) who could establish the new golden sections of the spirit of the age. If a new Renaissance had not yet begun, it was the fault of the artists, who this time were behind the scientists, limping along behind modern progress or indolently grazing in pathetic Marxist pastures. Contemporary painters, declared Dali, painted nothing: they were non-figurative, non-objective, non-expressive in approach, and painted nothing whatsoever.

Dali concluded his Mystical Manifesto (which he dated 15 April 1951, at Neuilly):

"NON!

Finished repudiation and retrogression, finished surrealist indisposition, existential anguish, mysticism and the paroxysm of joy in the ultra-individualist affirmation of all man's heterogeneous tendencies toward the absolute unity of ecstasy. I want my next Christ to be the painting containing the most beauty and joy that has ever been painted up to today. I want to paint a Christ who will be absolutely the contrary in everything from the materialist and savagely antimystic Christ of Grunewald!

 

Absolute monarchy, perfect esthetic cupola of the soul, homogeneity, unity, and biological, hereditary, supreme continuity. All of the above will be suspended near the cupola of the sky. Below, crawling and supergelatinous anarchy, viscous heterogeneity, ornamental diversity of the ignominious soft structures compressed and rendering the last piece of their ultimate forms of reactions 'Anarchical Monarchy'. This is the '(almost divine) harmony of opposites' proclaimed by Heraclitus, which only the incorruptible mould of ecstasy will one day form using new stones from the Escorial.

Picasso, thank you! With your Iberian anarchical, integral genius you have killed the ugliness of modern painting: without you, without your prudence and moderation that characterize and are the honor of French art, we would risk having 100 years of more and more ugly painting until we progressively arrived at your sublime 'esperantos abatesios' of the Dora Mar series. You, with a single blow of your categorical sword, you have killed the bull of ignominy, also and especially the even blacker one of complete materialism. Now the new epoch of mystic painting begins with me."




see also:  Salvador Dali - Divine Comedy



 

The Fallen Angel. Illustration for Dante's "Divine Comedy"
1951

 

A Logician Devil - Lucifer. Illustration for Dante's "Divine Comedy"
1951

 

Illustration for Dante's "Divine Comedy"
1951
 


see also:  Salvador Dali - Divine Comedy



 

Discuss Art

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

 
| privacy