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Surrealism and Salvador Dali

Surrealism is defined as an art style developed in the 1920’s in Europe, characterized by using the subconscious as a source of creativity to liberate pictural subjects and ideas. Surrealist paintings often depict unexpected or irrational objects in an atmosphere or fantasy , creating a dreamlike scenario ( www. progressiveart. com 2004). The word Surrealism was created in 1917 by the writer Guillaune Apollinaire. He used it to describe two instances of artistic innovation ( Bradley 6). In 1924, in the Manifeste du Surrealisme which launched the surrealist movement, the writer Andre Brenton and his friend Philippe

Soupault adopted the word,”baptised by the name of Surrealism the new mode of expression which we had at our disposal and which we wished to pass on to our friends. ” Brenton adopted the word Surrealism to describe the Pyle 2 literary and artistic practice of himself and his “friends. ” Some examples of Surrealist art are; M. C. Escher’s “Drawing Hands,” Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” (1931) , and Salvador Dali’s “Remorse. ” (1931) One of Dali’s more famous paintings, “The Persistence of Memory,” was first shown June 1931 at The Pierre Cole Gallery in Paris.

Essentially the soft watches demonstrate hat one aspect of the paranoiac critical method is it’s capacity to link objects to qualities normally associated with other, completely different , elements . Dali painted the setting first, a deserted landscape at Port Lligat where he and Gala had bought a fisherman’s hut the previous summer. in the foreground the self-portrait motif reappears in the form of a foetus abandoned on a beach. This refers to Dali’s professed memories of intrauterine life and suggests the trauma of birth.

A watch sagging across the foetus and another hanging from a plinth evoke the feelings of timelessness associated with the experience or pre- irth. The title of the painting thus refers to prenatal memories and it’s subject is “the horrible traumatism of birth by which we are expunged from paradise”. The title Pyle 3 also refers to Gala’s response when Dali asked her whether in three years time she would have forgotten this painting. She replied “no one can forget it once he has seen it”(Dali 49). Another popular Dali paintings from the 1930’s is “The Atavism of Dusk” . Sex, cannibalism and death were linked in Dali’s mind.

By paranoiac association , precisely these anxieties were inspired by Millet’s painting depicting the piety of two laborers. In The Atavism of Dusk Dali expressed more explicitly this irrational significance which he divined in The Angelus. The posture of the two peasants is reproduced faithfully. The male stands to the left , his hat concealing his sexual arousal, but his face has been transformed into a skull, an image which invokes the consequences of his fatal sexual encounter with the female peasant standing at the right. The threat posed by the woman is evident in the way she assumes the attitude of a praying mantis.

This alludes to the practice of the female insect of the species devouring the male after oition (Dali 63). Pyle 4 Dali also created “The Wearing of Furniture-Nutrition” in the 1930’s. This painting represents a further variation in the capacity of the paranoiac critical method to “interpret”reality by establishing irrational connections between disparate elements. Unlike Dali’s image , in which several elements may be recognized within a single configuration, here the same configuration is repeated in various parts of the canvas but with different visual significance.

As a result, associations are made between disparate objects on the basis of repetition of outline or form. The setting of this painting is the bay or Port Lligat. This figure seated in the foreground and seen from behind has a composite identity. the woman is Llucia , Dali’s childhood nurse, who was notable for her “immense stature”. The night table , by virtue of it’s outline shape, appears to have been formed from the nurse’s body. A smaller cabinet, on which the bottle of wine stands, seems in turn and for the same reason to have been formed from the larger cupboard.

This again manifests the paranoiac phenomenon of flesh being transformed into inert objects. The implication is that the wine bottle is associated with he nurse’s breast and has been formed from it. This Pyle 5 connection completes the circle of association by returning to Llucia who was Dali’s wet nurse; hence the nutritive quality of the furniture in the title (Dali , 67). One of Dali’s most famous paintings “Swans Reflecting Elephants” was also created in the 1930’s . The end of the 1930’s saw the Spread of Dali’s reputation to America. He was officially recognized on December 14th 1936 when he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Swans Reflecting Elephants” demonstrates the development which occurred in Dali’s style since the beginning of the decade. In contrast to the disorder of his earlier paintings this work was created with extreme clarity. It’s hallucinatory force achieves potency by being integrated within a natural , almost photographic precision. The swans and the twisted trees behind them are invested with hidden, irrational meaning. This is revealed in the repetition of these forms as reflections in the lake beneath, in which images of swans and trees have been transformed into elephants.

This manifests the power of paranoia; the domination of reality by tyrannizing , subjective forces (Dali 85). Pyle 6 The last painting I would like to talk about is Metamorphose of Narcissus” . In “Metamorphosis of Narcissus” the repetition of a formal configuration not only links two different images, but alludes to the transformation of one into the other. In Greek mythology Narcissus was a beautiful youth who fell in love with his reflection in a fountain; he was drowned after jumping into the fountain in order to embrace his own image. No body was ever found, only a flower which became known by his name.

In Dali’s painting , the youth is shown before and after his metamorphosis into a hand holding a cracked egg from which grows the narcissus flower. The nature of this transformation derives from a particular train of paranoiac thought, revealed in Dali’s poem of the same title which was published in 1937. Dali’s painting connects with his earlier obsession with onanism and is invested with personal significance.

However, Dali wrote: “When that head slits, when that head splits, when that head bursts, it will be the flower , the new Narcissus, Gala , My Narcissus’. The implication is that Gala had become the object of Dali’s self-love, a paradox which could only be Pyle 7 resolved by the fusion of the separate identities of Gala nd Dali into one. This development is evident in the way that Dali began to sign his paintings after this point as “Gala Salvador Dali (Dali 89) . ” Dali was born in 1904. However, the first Salvador Dali was born before his famous brother but passed away during infancy. Dali was born into a wealthy family ,as a child Dali was violent and threw tantrums often.

From early on,Dali was drawn to displays of power, either by authorities or of his own. In his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, he described himself as a self-absorbed, often cruel child who enjoyed exhibitionism and voyeurism. In one incident, he recalled kicking his sister in the head when she was a toddler–and his “delirious joy” in doing so (The Persistence of Memory, 7). He chose to be a painter at the age of ten, when he spent a summer at the Moli de la Torre (the tower mill) , a farmhouse near Figueras belonging to the Pichots, a family of musicians and artists (Dali 10).

Ramon Pichot introduced Dali to impressionism and turn-of-the-century French painting. In Pyle 8 1925, when Dali was barely in his twenties, Galeria Dalmau in Barcelona organized the first two Dali solo exhibitions. After going through stages of Cubism, Futurism, and etaphysical painting, Dali began Surrealist art in 1929. He described his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs. ” In 1937 Dali visited Italy and adopted a more traditional style; this along with his political views led Brenton to expel him from the Surrealist ranks. Dali moved to the United States of America in 1940 and stayed until 1955.

During this time his paintings revolved around mostly religious themes, although sexual subjects and his wife Gala were also continuing preoccupations. In 1955 Dali returned to Spain and in old age became reclusive. Apart from panting, Dali created sculptures, book illustrations, ewelry designs, and even work for the theater. Dali worked with Luis Bunuel to create the first Surrealist films, Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’age d’or (1930). Dali also created a dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945). Dali wrote a novel , Hidden Faces ( 1944) and several volumes of autobiographies.

Pyle 9 In the United States of America , many things were happening in the 1930’s. For example The Great Depression, The Great Depression was an economic slump in North America, Europe, and other industrialized areas of the world that began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939. It as the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world. Though the U. S. economy had gone into depression six months earlier, the Great Depression may be said to have begun with a catastrophic collapse of stock-market prices on the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929.

During the next three years stock prices in the United States continued to fall, until by late 1932 they had dropped to only about 20 percent of their value in 1929. Besides ruining many thousands of individual investors, this precipitous decline in the value of assets greatly strained banks and ther financial institutions, particularly those holding stocks in their portfolios. The result was drastically falling output and drastically rising unemployment; by 1932, U. S. manufacturing output had fallen to 54 percent of its 1929 level, and unemployment had risen to between 12 Pyle 10 and 15 million workers, or 25-30 percent of the work force.

The Great Depression began in the United States but quickly turned into a worldwide economic slump owing to the special and intimate relationships that had been forged between the United States and European economies after World War I. The United States had emerged from the war as the major reditor and financier of postwar Europe, whose national economies had been greatly weakened by the war itself, by war debts, and, in the case of Germany and other defeated nations, by the need to pay war reparations.

The Great Depression had important consequences in the political sphere. In the United States, economic distress led to the election of the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency in late 1932. Roosevelt introduced a number of major changes in the structure of the American economy, using increased government regulation and massive public-works projects to promote a recovery.

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