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A Self-Proclaimed Madman: Dali

            Freud’s psychoanalysis theory comes into play with artist, Salvador Dali, and Dali provides an immense amount of content to be interpreted and analyzed.[1] Salvador Dali’s art career began when he was 10 years old, when he started his first drawing lessons. It was through his early beginnings that he displayed seemingly manic eruptions within his art, along with the beautiful landscapes of his Catalan homeland, in Spain.[2] In 1921 Dali attended the Madrid School of Fine Arts.[3] His father, a notary, was hopeful that Dali would get a good career, and was not easily persuaded to allow Dali to attend the arts school.[4] It took recommendations from from his first teacher and possibly the loss of Salvador’s mom, that finally broke Dali’s father into allowing him to attend.[5] The loss of Dali’s mother had a huge impact on the artist’s drive for becoming the best. Such a loss fueled his fear that he would be forgotten in life and death. While in school Dali perfected his craft by utilizing several technical movements, such as classical and DADA, to name a few. Dali had much issue with the way art was being taught at The Madrid School of Fine Arts, as many of the teachings were in contrast to the artist’s own ideologies. Salvador Dali formally rejected his professor’s teachings and was expelled from the school as a result.[6]

Dali moved on to Paris, where he was first introduced to Picasso, where he further explored technical movements, such as Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism.[7] Dali’s mother was quoted by Ian Gibson, a Dali biographer to say “when he says he’ll draw a swan, ‘she would boast,’ he draws a swan, and when he says he’ll do a duck, it’s a duck,” and these words are further evidenced in the ability of Dali to have created art using the many techniques known to him.[8] While in Paris, a friend of Dali’s persuaded him to make a film with him. During the creation process of the film Dali and his friend Luis Bunuel made a pact to only paint the irrational. To do this they utilized a technique that was similar to the Surrealists’ automatic writing.[9] From this moment Dali strived to become the only true Surrealist of his time.

The nightmarish imagery of Dali’s paintings were actual impressions of the reality left to his memory.[10] An example of such imagery is with Dali’s Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Grand Piano (1934), which he projects the memory of his friends who had wonderful musical talent.[11] Dali’s imagery shifted more after he met the love of his life, Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova (aka Gala). This shift is with Accommodations of Desire (1929), where Dali claimed Gala cured him through her love.[12] Gala not only brought new inspiration to Dali, but she handled the business side of his works of art.[13] With Dali’s focus centered, he targeted the Surrealists by taunting them with controversial paintings. Andre Breton was so upset by the addition of Lenon’s face in a version of Dali’s The Enigma of William Tell (1933), that he and his friends sought out to destroy the painting, of which they did not succeed.[14] A short time later Dali would be expelled from the Surrealist movement, yet they could not remove Dali from surrealism altogether. A famous quote of Dali’s is “The only difference between the surrealists and me is that I am a Surrealist,” as is true that Dali is continued to be seen as a surrealist.[15]

Dali’s art was influenced by many artists spanning the Renaissance on through Surrealism. He was driven to break through the many layers of normality by painting his fantasies, dreams, nightmares and memories for the world to see. Salvador Dali lead his life by defying the standards, pursuing thought provocation, and perfecting art. Although his paintings endured much criticism by both artists and viewers alike, there is skillful mastery that can be seen. A level of artistic achievement that evolved into a blend of so many techniques Dali had accomplished. Dali’s Tuna Fishing[16] (1966-67) painting is a beautiful example of the blend of techniques, as we can see the use of pointillism, surrealism, geometric abstraction, psychedelic art, action painting and more within this one work of art. Dali began his career with the goal of being the best version of himself possible, and to be remembered. One of his famous quotes is “my ambition has steadily grown, and my megalomania with it. Now I want only to be Salvador Dali, I have no greater wish,”[17] and although he was deemed a megalomaniac he earned his ranking amongst the greatest artists of the 20th Century. Dali may have viewed himself to be a madman, but he proved to the world that his art is genius and that he could paint anything using any technique. Dali will not soon be forgotten.


 

 

Bibliography

 

Biography.com Editors. Salvador Dali Biography. In The biography.com Website. 2016: A&E Television Networks. 2016 July 12. http://www.biography.com/people/salvador-dal-40389.

Dali, Salvador. Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Grand Piano. 1934. Oil on Panel. St. Petersburg, FL: The Salvador Dali Museum, on loan from E. and A. Reynolds Morse. In Neret, Gilles. Dali. Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh 2007.

Dali, Salvador. Accommodations for Desire. 1929. Oil on Panel. Private Collection; formerly Collection Julien Levy. In Neret, Gilles. Dali. Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh 2007.

Dali, Salvador. Tuna Fishing. 1966-1967. Oil on Canvas. Ile d Bendor, Foundation Paul Richard. In Neret, Gilles. Dali. Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh 2007.

Foster, Hal, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, and David Joselit. Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Post Modernism. Second Edition, Vol. 1. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson Inc. 2011.

Meiser, Stanley. The Surreal World of Salvador Dali: Genius or Madman? A New Exhibition May Help You Decide. In Arts & History. “Smithsonian Online.” 2005 April: Smithsonian. 2016 July 10. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-surreal-world-of-salvador-dali-78993324/?page=4.

Neret, Gilles. Dali. Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh 2007.

“Salvador Dali”. In Artists.  “The Art Story: Modern Art Insight”. 2016: The Art Story Foundations. July 9, 2016. http://www.m.theartstory.org/artist-dali-salvador.htm.

[1] Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, and David Joselit, Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Post Modernism, Second Edition, Vol. 1, (New York: Thames & Hudson Inc.: 2011), 15.

[2] Salvador Dali, In Artists, “The Art Story: Modern Art Insight” The Art Story Foundation, 2016, July 9, 2016, http://www.m.theartstory.org/artist-dali-salvador.htm.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 13.

[5] Ibid. 13.

[6] Ibid. 15.

[7] Ibid. 15.

[8] Stanley Meiser, The Surreal World of Salvador Dali: Genius or Madman? A New Exhibition May Help You Decide, In Arts & History, “Smithsonian Online,” Smithsonian, 2005 April, Web, 2016 July 10, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-surreal-world-of-salvador-dali-78993324/?page=4.

[9] Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 16.

[10] Ibid. 13.

[11] Salvador Dali, Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Grand Piano, 1934, Oil on Panel, St. Petersburg, FL, The Salvador Dali Museum on loan from E. and A. Reynolds Morse, in Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 31.

[12] Salvador Dali, Accommodations for Desire, 1929, Oil on Panel, Private Collection; formerly Collection Julien Levy, in Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 24.

[13] Biography.com Editors, Salvador Dali Biography, in The Biography.com Website, A&E Television Networks, 2016 July 12, http://www.biography.com/people/salvador-dal-40389.

[14] Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 32.

[15] Ibid. 7.

[16] Salvador Dali, Tuna Fishing, 1966-1967, Oil on Canvas, Ile de Bendor, Foundation Paul Richard, in Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 84.

[17] Salvador Dali in Gilles Neret, Dali, (Koln, Germany: Taschen Gmbh, 2007), 7.

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