On Salvador Dali Essay Research Paper Salvador

On Salvador Dali Essay, Research Paper

Salvador Dali, was born Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i

Domenech at 8:45 a.m., Monday, 11 May 1904, in the small

town, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, of Figueres, Spain,

approximately sixteen miles from the French border in the

principality of Catalonia. His parents supported his talent

and built him his first studio, while he was still a child,

in their summer home. Dali went on to attend the San

Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Spain, was married

to Gala Eluard in 1934 and died on 23 January 1989 in a

hospital in the town he born.

Dali did not limit himself to one particular style or

medium. Beginning with his early impressionistic work going

into his surrealistic works, for which he is best known, and

ending in what is known as his classic period, it becomes

apparent just how varied his styles and mediums are. He

worked with oils, watercolors, drawings, sculptures,

graphics and even movies.

Dali held his first one-man show in Barcelona in 1925

where his talents were first recognized. He became

internationally known when some of his paintings were shown

in the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in

1928. The next year he joined the Paris Surrealist Group

and began his love affair with Gala who became more than

just his lover, she was his business manager, muse and

greatest inspiration.

Surrealism emerged from what was left of Dada in the

early 1920?s and unlike Dada, a nihilistic movement,

Surrealism held a promising and more positive view of art

and because of this won many converts. It began as a

literary movement in a Paris magazine. What they held in

common was their belief in the importance of the unconscious

mind and its manifestations, as was stressed by Freud. They

believed that through the unconscious mind a plethora of

artistic imagery would be unveiled. Both of these movements

were also anti-establishment and they rejected the

traditional Western Judeo-Christian beliefs and moral values

and believed that reason and logic had failed man?s quest

for self-knowledge. The Surrealists differed from Dada in

one other, ideological aspect. The Surrealists believed

that man could indeed improve the human condition, the major

difference between the two movements.

A few years before his marriage to Gala in 1934, Dali

emerged as a leader of the Surrealist Movement. Although

Dali was intrigued with the Surrealist technique of

automatism, in which the artist with pen and ink let his

hand move quickly over the paper and let their thought

through to the paper without allowing their minds to control

those thoughts, he had already laid his foundation for his

own Surrealistic art in his youth through his

paranoiac-critical method. This contribution of his was an

alternate manner in which to view or perceive reality. It

was no new concept; it could be traced back to Leonardo da

Vinci and his practice of staring at stains on walls,

clouds, streams, etc. and seeing different figures in them.

Everyone who goes cloud watching uses this technique. Dali,

however gave this method a different twist.

Dali linked his paranoiac-critical method, the ability

to look at any object and see another, with paranoia, which

was characterized then by chronic delusions and

hallucinations. Dali himself was not paranoid but was able

to place himself in paranoid states. In one of his more

famous statements he said, ?The only difference between

myself and a madman is that I am not mad.? He was able to

look at reality and dream of new ideas and paint them, which

he called his ?hand-painted dream photographs.? Through his

paranoiac-critical method, Dali was able to look at everyday

objects and attach a subjective meaning based on his

obsessions, phobias and conflicts. The result was a new,

imaginative visual presentation of reality.

By the forties, however, Dali began his move from

Surrealism into what he called his classic era. This is the

area I will be focusing on in paper when discussing several

of his artworks. Just before World War II, Dali and his

wife fled from Europe to the United States. They spent the

next decade in the States where Dali went through a

metamorphosis of sorts. He gave his first major

retrospective exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art in New

York and soon afterward he published his autobiography, The

Secret Life of Salvador Dali. He began his series of

eighteen large canvasses.

One of the better known of these works is The

Hallucinogenic Toreador. In this work Dali incorporated

many elements from his Catalan culture, the toreador himself

and the bull, his Catholic upbringing, the angels in the

back of the arena, some of his artistic influences, the

sculptures of the Venus de Milo found throughout the work

and the face of his wife floating in the upper left hand

corner. There are also allusions to earlier works, the bust

of Voltaire is present which alludes to The Slave Market

with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire, the little boy in

the right hand corner is a recurring theme in his works and

is representative of his own childhood, another recurring

theme is the dog found beneath the veil that is formed by

the surface of the lake. This painting is full of double

images, the sculptures becoming the toreador, the dog in the

lake, the blood on the bull?s back becoming the flies, the

rock face serving as the banderillas that pierced the bull.

This work is full of Dali and he himself referred to it as

?All Dali in one Painting.?

Another work I wish to speak of is an earlier one,

which I mentioned earlier, The Slave Market with the

Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. This painting, as did The

Hallucinogenic Toreador, displays a variety of double

images. His wife Gala is the woman sitting at the table

on which sits the bust of Voltaire. The background allows

the bust to be seen as a pair of women from the seventeenth

century with a pair of beggars at their side. The bowl too

shares the same kind of phenomena. It appears empty now,

the pear that was in the bowl is now a part of the mountain

in the horizon in the background. Again, this work proves

how powerful the hallucinatory force is. Dali?s

paranoiac-critical method proves to be very effective but it

also proves to be what ultimately led him away from

Surrealism and into his new form of classic art.

The third and final artwork I will touch upon is Old

Age, Adolescence, Infancy (The Three Ages). This work was

completed around the same time as The Slave Market with the

Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. This painting as well is a

primary example of shift away from Surrealism. There are

the three ages depicted, old age on the left, adolescence in

the center and infancy on the right. Again the dualism is

rampant in this work. Everyday objects and people are

perceived different than what they really are; they become

something or someone totally different. There are also

recurring themes present such as the little boy, Dali in his

childhood. This particular work is officially considered a

work of surrealism but Dali?s shift from Surrealism through

the very means that got him into surrealism,

paranoiac-critical method, are apparent.

Around the time Dali was working on his eighteen large

canvases, he returned to his Catholic upbringing and renewed

his vows with Gala in Spain. In 1974 Dali opened the Teatro

Museo Dali in the town in which he grew up, Figueres. Gala

died in 1982 and Dali?s health began to fail. There was

later a fire in Gala?s castle in which Dali was severely

and consequently his health deteriorated further. Two years

later he had a pacemaker implanted and spent his life almost

in total seclusion. On 23 January 1989, Salvador Felipe

Jacinto Dali i Domenech died in a hospital in Figueres

because of heart failure and respiratory complications.


Dali, Salvador. English translation by Haakon M. Chevalier. The Secret Life of

Salvador Dali. New York, NY: 1942.

De La Croix, Horst, Richard G. Tansey, Diane Kirkpatrick. Art Through The Ages.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers; New York, NY: 1991.

Moorhouse, Paul. Dali. Brompton Books Corporation; New York, NY: 1993.


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