Not everybody knows what does the term “Surrealism” mean, what it consists of and what it`s appealing to. This art movement has always been associated with something unclear and mysterious; there has always been a riddle within the strange images and colors that were asking you to solve it and find your personal meaning of it. The genre wasn`t always popular among the masses, and the surrealists weren`t as well; however, the one among the other was always famous and well-known through all over the world, he has produced more than 1,500 works including paintings, movies, sculptures and cooperated with many various personalities of his time. These works made him immortal and his masterpieces are still admired by the modern artists and critics. His name is Salvador Dali, and here we`re going to describe his famous works and give them a brief analysis; we`ll try to answer, what exactly made him one of the outstanding artists of all the time and one of the great personalities also.
The creation of Dali is widely recognized as a “classic” surrealism and connected with his works like his “The Persistence of Memory” of 1931, the dazzling depiction of melting watches and clocks around the deserted area. However, his first painting was more of impressionism and in the sentences below we`ll give the exact example of this. His first painting was represented in 1910, when he was approximately six years old. The painting was a result of his talent developed by the studies in the Municipal Drawing School of his birthplace, the city of Figueres. The name of the painting was the simple one “The Landscape Near Figueras”. It leaves the impression of someone else`s work despite the fact that it has the “Dali” signature. The rendering of the colors is warm and sweet and one can surely be surprised once discovered that the artist was only 6 years old. His talent here is undeniable and the inspiration of the impressionists, with whom he was accompanied through all his childhood, can be noticed here. Just as his other paintings in the “Landscape” series, this particular painting was drawn on a postcard, a twisted format for any painter. Dali here uses a perspective here depicting the road guiding to a house among the trees. The details of the mountains, the clouds and the leaves are here of impressionistic origin. Moreover, in the depiction of the clouds he let the color of a postcard to be revealed among the colors of the sky. The overall coloring of the painting is overwhelming also, with the red colors of roof attracting the eye of the viewer that lies on the contrary of the background of the painting. The painting shows the artist`s drawing abilities and talents and becomes the reason why he was potentially supposed to be an outstanding artist of all the times.
At the age of 18, he started to study at the School of Arts in Madrid, the Academia de San Fernando. Despite his talent and artistic skills, the local professors` underestimation of his talent and the disability to evaluate Dali`s paintings adequately made him to proclaim that they lacked enough qualification to teach him the Art, and he was expelled from the Academia in 1926. He has gone to Paris and within the next years made friends with Miro, Picasso and Magritte. The period was the end of his artistic search, as the last painting before the surrealistic paintings was the “Cabaret Scene” that combined the elements of cubism and impressionism. In 1929, in cooperation with Magritte he developed the surrealism itself and made it the cultural movement. The most famous painting of the period is the well-known “The Persistence of Memory” of 1931 that was briefly mentioned above. We do accept the cultural value and the importance of the painting for all the surrealism itself; however, we`re going to describe here another bright example of the period, the painting called “Apparatus and Hand”.
The painting is very unclear from a first look on it; it shows a strange geometric figure with a red tumescent hand sticking from the top of the geometric structure that consists of triangles and cones. The illusory nude female figures are surrounding the structure and they are imposed on a watery and light blue background. The drawing itself was pictured by Dali after his retirement from the military duty of 9 months, where started to experiment with the new images for his paintings. The Apparatus from the title is the strange geometric structure itself; however, it has a design of a human body if we take a closer look, as we can see here a head, an eye, arms and legs are also visible here. This creature seems to be supported by some sort of a cane, with the help of which Dali describes how fragile the sleep of this creature is. The red hand on the structure`s top is a symbol of Onanism that was a widely used theme by him during this period as it also made references to so-called Freudian Period (inspired by Freud works). The female figures around the figure are the depiction of erotic thoughts within it, the erotic touch in the images of the paintings was also common for this period. The structure`s left side is accompanied with a donkey standing on his haunches; it`s being eaten by the insects flying around him and this image depicts the whole decay of the structure with the thought that a person, who uses his hand to satisfy his sexual needs is a decomposed one.
The artistic career of Dali have been successfully continuing during his whole life, his style has been changing as the artist was always inspired by the current events of his life ( for example, The First and Second World Wars and the oppression against Fascism) and by the people he has met during his life. We should pay attention to his last painting, which shows the artist`s personal development as a person and as an artist. It was still a surreal painting; however, it was different from his famous pieces of the previous years. The painting is called “The Swallow`s Tail” and it shows Dali`s admiration of Catastrophe Theory by a mathematician Rene Thom. The theory is complex to understand by non-mathematician; however, Dali found it magnificent and beautiful in depicting the functions` graphs of the theory. Dali used in the painting the graph of Swallow`s Tail, The Cusp graph and the Second Catastrophe graph; in addition, he decorated the graphs with the cello curves on the top left of the picture and the red-colored f-holes that one will find similar to an integral sign (∫). These details of the picture are drawn over a white sheet with a light blue tone that is stretched and has cracks and wrinkles in the center at the same time, which increases the surrealistic impression from the painting. The bluish white sheet is placed in a black background and stretched across it. The mathematics and the musical forms the artist found similar complex and beautiful and the same time. His comparison of an integral symbol with an f-hole of a cello is a bright evidence for that.
It`s hard to depict such a great personal and creative life of such an outstanding person, who could depict his inner feelings and thoughts within amount of images and surreal riddles and draw them in a paintings made technically and with a great talent, in such limited amount of text. There`s so much left to say about him and about his works. I hope, that the mentioned information above persuaded you that Salvador Dali was a person that appears in the world one time in a million years because his way of feeling, thinking and depicting his inner life was simply unique, and nobody till nowadays can surpass him in that.
Greeley, Robin. Surrealism and the Spanish Civil War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
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The Swallow’s Tail by Salvador Dalí, 1983. 14 12 2010. http://christinagraphic.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/the-swallows-tail-by-salvador-dali-1983/. 02 03 2014.
Zibas, Christine. Art Review Landscape near Figueras by Salvador Dali. 09 07 2014. http://www.finearts360.com/index.php/art-review-landscape-near-figueras-by-salvador-dali-1025/. 02 03 2014.