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

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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 and Gala in New York in 1947
 


Dali with his father in Cadaques in 1948
 


Dali and Gala in Port Lligat, August 1957



Dali at the Bignou Gallery in New York in 1948
 

For Dali, the atom bomb was the start of a new era. He succumbed to mysticism - nuclear mysticism, as it were. The Hiroshima explosion coincided with his own classicist explosion. In its characteristically mischievous way, Art News commented: "The possibility cannot be ruled out that Dali will be giving more attention to the conscious realm from now on than to the unconscious. If this does indeed be the case, nothing need prevent him from becoming the greatest academic painter of the twentieth century."
After the Second World War, Dali did not immediately return to Europe. The change from the psychoanalysis Dali to the nuclear physics Dali was making heavy demands on him. In his Mystical Manifesto, Dali described the change that was occurring in him at that time in the following terms: "The explosion of the atom bomb on 6 August 1945 sent a seismic shock through me. Since then, the atom has been central to my thinking. Many of the scenes I have painted in this period express the immense fear that took hold of me when I heard of the explosion of the bomb. I used my paranoiac-critical method to analyse the world. I want to perceive and understand the hidden powers and laws of things, in order to have them in my power.

A brilliant inspiration shows me that I have an unusual weapon at my disposal to help me penetrate to the core of reality: mysticism -that is to say, the profound intuitive knowledge of what is, direct communication with the all, absolute vision by the grace of Truth, by the grace of God. More powerful than cyclotrons and cybernetic calculators, I can penetrate to the mysteries of the real in a moment... Mine the ecstasy! I cry.

The ecstasy of God and Man. Mine the perfection, the beauty, that I might gaze into its eyes! Death to academicism, to the bureaucratic rules of art, to decorative plagiarism, to the witless incoherence of African art! Mine, St. Teresa of Avila!... In this state of intense prophecy it became clear to me that means of pictorial expression achieved their greatest perfection and effectiveness in the Renaissance, and that the decadence of modern painting was a consequence of scepticism and lack of faith, the result of mechanistic materialism. By reviving Spanish mysticism I, Dali, shall use my work to demonstrate the unity of the universe, by showing the spirituality of all substance."

This avowal of mysticism was consistent enough as a product of Dali's experience to date. And he was to be as good as his word; from that time on, until the end of his life, he applied mystical principles to his work. The paintings he would create in the years ahead often met with a mixed response; but among them are numerous masterpieces.


"The Cosmic Dali". From a series of photographs by Philippe Halsman, designed by Dali, 1948

 


"The Cosmic Dali". From a series of photographs by Philippe Halsman, designed by Dali, 1948

 

 


Portrait of Picasso
1947

 

 


Portrait of Mrs. Mary Sigall
1948

 

 

The second subversive force that filled the "ex-Surrealist" (who in fact remained more of a Surrealist than ever) was - by his own account - the ability to draw. Dali discussed this in 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, which was a regular treatise on the art of painting and which he characteristically praised by saying: "Reading it, I really learnt to paint almost as well as Zurbaran." In the treatise he noted that people now knew how to make an atom bomb, but "no one knows what the mysterious juice was made of, the painting medium into which the brothers van Eyck or Vermeer van Delft dipped their brushes." He went on to provide his own recipes. First he dealt with questions of equipment: five different brushes to suit five different kinds of movement. Then he turned to optics, the binocular vision he was later to use (there was method in his supposed madness), and examined the astounding opportunities open to stereoscopic painting. Thanks to "much-despised sensory perception", he was able fully to adapt this way of seeing to his "system" of steered dreaming. One of his aphorisms declared: "When you are painting, always think of something else."
 

 


Feather Equilibrium (Interatomic Balance of a Swan's Feather)
1947

 

 

The advice was both mischievous and (how Dali loved the hierarchical note!) authoritative. He then turned to the central, unique, dreamlike impulse of art, "to take oneself ad absurdum by hypnotically questioning one's own sense of perception". He wrote of the "three eyes", which were fundamentally nothing but a re-statement of the theory of the third eye which is so common among visionaries everywhere. In his 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship Dali advised young artists not merely to see, but "to see metaphysically". He also provided a host of technical hints which he had learnt through years of practice and by patient study of writing on art, among them Cennino Cennini's IlLibro dell'arte (which had itself been inspired by the writings of a monk, Theophilus Presbyter). Cennini's work had been the treatise on the art of painting since the 14th century. Next came Luca Pacioli and the masters of the Italian Renaissance, whose secrets Dali had rediscovered.

Having established the direction and preconditions of his current evolution, Dali felt free to return to Europe at last. On 21 July 1948, he and Gala arrived at Le Havre. They immediately travelled on to Port Lligat. There Dali promptly set to work on two commissions he had accepted, designing the sets and costumes for Peter Brook's production of Richard Strauss's Salome and Luchino Visconti's of Shakespeare's As You Like It.

 

 
The Impossible Model (drawing for "50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship")
1947

 
 
Drawing for "50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship"
1947

 
 
Drawing for "50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship"
1947

 
 
Drawing for "50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship"
1947

 
 
Untitled - Illustration for "50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship"
1948

 
 
Design for "Destino"
1947

 
 
Design for "Destino"
1947

 
 
Drawing for Disney's "Destino"
1947

 

 

Above all, Dali was itching to retun to painting, and to establish the new Dali approach as swiftly as possible. It was very important for him now to adopt his new religious themes; this was something that many of his critics who had no special interest in spiritual matters were unable to understand. He was obsessed with the absolute, and the classical iconography of Christianity afforded a means of exploring different artistic territory: the territory of the sacred. Great painters had always wanted to paint a crucifixion. Now the Madonna, Christ, the Last Supper and other central images were to grant him access to that heaven he was already seeking at the close of The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.

While still in New York, Dali had painted The Temptation of Saint Anthony. At that time he had extensive contacts in the film and theatre world. After working on Hitchcock's Spellbound, he decided to enter Albert Levin's competition for material for a film version of Guy de Maupassant's Bel Ami. Max Ernst 'won the competition, and his picture was the only colour shot in the entire black-and-white film; but even if Dali's Temptation of Saint Anthony did not win, the picture is still of great significance in Dali's 'work. It marks the point in his creative life when intermediates between heaven and earth become important

 




The Temptation of Saint Anthony
1946

 


The Elephants
1948

 

 
Drawing for the programme for the ballet "As You Like It" after Shakespeare's comedy
1948

 

 

- in this case, the elephants with their spindly legs. They anticipate the theme of levitation, which was subsequently to be fully developed in his "mystical-corpuscular" paintings. The temptation that confronts the saint takes various forms: a rearing horse, symbolic of power, but also (here) of the Fountain of Desire on its back, topped with a naked woman, another bearing a Roman obelisk inspired by Bernini, the others with a building reminiscent of the Palladium and a phallic tower. In the distant clouds we glimpse parts of El Escorial, representing spiritual and temporal order.

Dali decided that henceforth he would devote himself to his threefold synthesis of classicism, the spiritual, and concern with the nuclear age. "My ideas "were ingenious and abundant. I decided to turn my attention to the pictorial solution of quantum theory, and invented quantum realism in order to master gravity... I painted Leda Atomica, a celebration of Gala, the goddess of my metaphysics, and succeeded in creating 'floating space'; and then Dali at the Age of Six, When He Thought He Was a Girl Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Skin of the Sea to Oberserve a Dog Sleeping in the Shade of the Water - a picture in which the personae and objects seem like foreign bodies in space. I visually dematenahzed matter; then I spiritualized it in order to be able to create energy. The object is a living being, thanks to the energy that it contains and radiates, thanks to the density of the matter it consists of. Every one of my subjects is also a mineral with its place in the pulsebeat of the world, and a living piece of uranium. In my paintings I have succeeded in giving space substance. My

Cupola Consisting of Twisted Carts is the most magnificent demonstration of my mystical way of seeing. I maintain with full conviction that heaven is located in the breast of the faithful. My mysticism is not only religious, but also nuclear and hallucinogenic. I discovered the selfsame truth in gold, in painting soft watches, and in my visions of the railway station at Perpignan. I believe in magic and in my fate."
 

 


Leda Atomica
1949

 

 


Studies for the air centers and soft morphologies of "Leda Atomica"
1947

 

 


Study for Leda Atomica
1947

 

 


Leda Atomica (first unfinished version)
1948

 

 


Dali at the Age of Six, When He Thought He Was a
Girl Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Skin of the Sea
to Oberserve a Dog Sleeping in the Shade of the Water

1950

 


Nude in the Desert Landscape
1948


 

Battle Over a Dandelion
1947


 

Dematerialization Near the Nose of Nero
1947


 

Jour de la Vierge
1947


 

The Three Sphinxes of Bikini
1947


 

Wheat Ear
1947


 

Cathedral of Thumbs (The Thumbs)
1947


 


 

The Annunciation
1947


 

Hollywood
1947


 

Hollywood. Cover illustration for "Sunset" magazine
1947


 

Untitled (Landscape)
1948
 
 

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