Salvador DaliSalvador Dali, was born Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech on Monday, 11 May 1904, in the small Spanish town of Figueres, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, approximately sixteen miles from the French border in a region known as Catalonia. His parents supported his talent and built him his first studio while he was still a child in their summer home at Cadaques. Dali went on to attend the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Spain. He was married to Gala Eluard in 1934 and died on 23 January 1989 in a hospital in Figueres (Etherington-Smith, 12).
Dali never limited himself to one style or particular medium. Beginning with his early impressionistic works, greatest inspiration.
Surrealism emerged from what was left of Dada (a European movement categorized by its irrationality and lack of traditional values, sometimes referred to as nihilistic) in the mid 1920’s and unlike Dada, Surrealism held a promising and more positive view of art and because of this it won many converts. Surrealism actually got its beginnings as a literary, not artistic, trend in Parisian publications (Stangos, 122). What Surrealism and Dadaism held in common was their belief in the importance of the unconscious mind and its manifestations, as was stressed by Freud. They both believed that through the unconscious mind a plethora of artistic imagery would be unveiled. Both of these , called automatism. The Surrealists also wanted to answer the question how shall I be free? and to express thought without any concepts other than the question itself. They believed that automatism would reveal the true and individual nature of anyone who practiced it, far more completely than could any of his conscious creations. For automatism was the most perfect means for reaching laid his foundation for his own Surrealistic art in his youth through his ‘critical paranoia’ 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 (Stangos, 138). Anyone who looks at a cloud and sees something other than just a cloud 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.” (The Persistence of Memory, 163)
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 sculptures of the Venus de Milo found throughout the work and the face of his wife floating in the upper , 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, and 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 was mentioned previously, The Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. This painting, similar to The Hallucinogenic Toreador, displays a variety of double images. His 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 painting I will touch upon is Old Age, Adolescence, Infancy (The Three Ages). This work was completed around the same time (the early 1940’s) as The Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. This painting as well is a primary example of Dali’s 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 hospital in Figueres because of respiratory complications and heart failure (Etherington-Smith).