Salvador Dali Surrealism


                         SALVADOR DALI & SURREALISM
      Surrealism (from French surrealisme - supernaturalism) - a modernistic
direction in the art, appeared after the First World War in France, during
1920s. Its founders considered surrealism as a way to recognize
subconscious, or supernatural. By definition of the founder, and the
ideologist of this direction Andrй Breton the surrealism is " the pure
mental automatism, the purpose of which is to express, either orally, or in
writing, everyday ideas.  Surrealism is a dictation of ideas beyond any
control of mind, beyond any aesthetic or moral imaginations." (Ades 28)
Artists weren’t only creating new style in art and literature, but, first
of all, they were modifying the world and life. Surrealists were sure that
inconceivable was beginning to incarnate the earth.
      The formation of Surrealism takes its roots from Dadaism. The impudent
art arisen in conditions of horror and disappointment of the artists before
the major catastrophe – the European revolutions (1916-1918). This event
shattered Switzerland, Austria, France and Germany. Dadaism basically
rejected any positive aesthetic value, and offered an “antiaesthetic” value
for everything. For Dadaists everything " reasonable, kind, eternal " had
failed, and the world appeared to be unfair, mean, and ugly. The values of
Dadaists were to destroy any style of beauty by means of "ugliness". Revolt
of Dadaist had somewhat settled in the middle of 1920s. Dadaists mainly
relied on “accidental effects” as a main working tool. Artists began
dripping paint on canvas, and forming irrational configurations. The
surrealistic attitude towards inconceivable, or to the elements of chaos is
directly grown from Dadaistic roots. But surrealists trend in art wasn’t
simply to destroy, but create through destruction. The bohemian anarchism
of Dadaists had a strong affect on Dali, and therefore he became a true
follower of their scandalous behavior. (Faerna, 32-40)
      Surrealists hunted for unpredicted in order to free from the control
of the mind. (For example, they placed a sheet of a paper on rough surfaces
and rubbed a paper with dry paints, and received fantastic configurations
reminding of thickets of a fantastic wood.) But great masters weren’t
satisfied with such primitive methods of painting. They had to achieve
internal irrationality or mindless state of mental life. For this purpose,
forms of visual self-hypnosis were practiced. They created "bewitching"
forces by staring at the movement of fire, or the movement of clouds, or
etc. Transition from "mechanical" perceptions to "psychological” (or
psychoanalytical) perception, gradually influenced all masters of
surrealism. (Descharnes, 8)
      Surrealists assembled meetings or "trainings" which were named as
sommeils – or "dreams in reality ". They played during these meetings. They
were interested in accidental and unconscious semantic combinations, which
occurred during "bouts-rimes (word game).” Each of them made a phrase, not
knowing about the words made by the other participants of the game. So,
once they came up with a phrase "The refined corpse will drink a fine wine
" was invented. The purpose of this game was to train to free your
consciousness and logic. By doing so they were able to gain chaotic forces
from the chasms of subconscious. By this way, ideas of surrealism had
really turned into an explosive: destroying everything on its way,
shattering any truth or a principle based on a reason, belief, virtue, or
ideal beauty. It destroyed beauty that was viewed by radical innovators as
art. They viewed life as a synonym of deceit, and lifelessness. Many
surrealists did not focus much on techniques of painting, they were
interested in the outcome of the painting.  The burst of nihilism was
formed among young artists during those times. Not having faith in
anything, they also drew this “ANYTHING."
      Dali’s surrealism, doesn’t present any politics, an intimate life, an
aesthetic beauty, a history, or anything else. In his art there is only a
Surrealistic Creativity, which transforms everything into something new as
it contacts it. Dali painted about everything that was essential for the
person of that time. The themes of his painting varied from sexual
revolution to preparation of meal. Some of other themes of his paintings
were civil war, nuclear explosions, Nazism, Catholic beliefs, science, or
classical art. For sane people, Dali’s art was something inconceivable and
shocking. Somehow he even built a so-called “surrealistic object,” which
was absolutely not suitable for actual use. This was his embodiment of his
obsessive ideas, and manias. This object was called “the astral chair.” The
chair’s leather coating was replaced by chocolate coating, a door handle
was screwed on one leg, and other leg stood on a mug with beer. Surely such
a chair would simply collapse by the impact of a door swing, spilling the
beer all over the floor, and causing an alarm and confusion for the people
around it.
      Dali alienated himself from his colleagues. Therefore they turned
against Dali. His friends started denying Dali’s art. Andrй Breton after
another disagreement with the artist, made an anagram of letters of his
name “Avida Dollars – Dollar Thirsty.” He hinted that all that Dali
created, had an advertising character, and are directed strictly at making
money, and that art itself had no value for him.
      Dali sometimes proclaimed to be the only unique surrealist. And at the
same time he said that, "Painting is the color photo made by a brush ". But
it’s useless to blame Dali for inconsistency, because irrationality – was
his value and element of thinking and painting. This method was the true
description of Dali’s style both in life, and in art. Dali has literally
treated all those ideas, principles, values, and people with whom he
associated with impudently, and disrespectfully. He implemented the ideas
of surrealism to the extent. Dali is dangerous to the silent human nature;
he is dangerous for humans’ "well-being" because he discredits senses and
values of human culture. He discredits both religion and godlessness, both
Nazism and antifascism, both admirations of art, and avant-guard revolt
against them, both belief in the humanity and disbelief in it.
      Dali searched for new decisions, and forms of art starting from his
childhood. Once, he painted a still life painting with only three colors on
an old worn-out door. He used the door instead of canvas. It surprised him
that this still-life painting amazed his friends and relatives. It was the
image of a handful of the berries put under the sun. Then someone from
spectators had noticed, that at cherries were missing tails. The young
artist had forgotten to paint them. He quickly ate the berries that he was
drawing earlier, and attached the real tails to the still-life painting. He
pulls out the woodworms of old door, and attached them to berries, and he
created painting with live woodworms and real berry tails. At seeing this,
the spectators were overwhelmed.
      Having entered the School of fine Arts in Madrid, Dali hoped to find
worthy teachers. He hoped to find someone who could teach him the sacred
craft of drawing, but he very soon got disappointed. He publicly declared
that he didn’t want to be tested by those teachers who "knew almost
nothing, and incapable of anything.” Therefore he got expelled from the art
school. He admired the great masters of Italian Renaissance. He explained
how his surrealistic creativity began. He wrote, "The inevitable happened
-here comes Dali. The core surrealist, moved by "will and authority." He
proclaimed unlimited freedom from any aesthetic or moral compulsions, and
declared that it is possible to go up to the extreme limits of any artistic
experiments, as long as you don’t care about any consequence. (Gibson, 6-9)
      All this wasn’t only his private affair; it was the purpose of
surrealism. Dali truly was the surrealist to the core. Everything he
touched or spoke about turned into surrealistic images. Dali in his life
mainly focused on his surrealistic "ego.”
The artist has created some sort of "password" that led to the secrets of
his creativity and personality. His masterpieces and graphic works are
constructed like texts. In his works, he presents the history of World’s
culture as a series of metaphors. And same kinds of citations are
applicable to his masters of the past. In his painting "Spain", we see the
resemblance to Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings. And in his portraits and still-
life drawings we can relate to Italian painter of XVI century Arcimboldi
Giuseppe. (Descharnes, 27)
      Dali perfectly managed to change the format of an art on an easel
painting. The extended horizontal canvas are full of narration, that
contain consecutive display of metamorphosis ("Metamorphosis of Narcissus."
Oil on canvas, 20 1/8x30 3/8 inches,  1937)



      The vertical stretched canvas changes the dynamics of the picture,
adding solemnity to it Dali thought that horizon in the paintings were very
essential.” The low horizon gives an image some sort of theatrical look
(for example, "The Sacrament of the Last Super.” Oil on canvas, 65 5/8x105
Ѕ inches, 1955)



      In his compositions with high horizon, the features close to the
folklore beginning are seen. The images have ornamental - symbolical
character. The artist loved big canvases. His wide canvases are similar to
those of medieval masters. The main value of works of Dali consists of
creation of magnificent picturesque and graphic images. The artist presents
himself in his paintings, as the refined colorist, brilliant painter,
master of complexity, and yet architectonically conceivable painter (Ades,
17). Those paintings, in which Dali transforms the sign into artistic
images, are authentic masterpieces of paintings and graphics. The tragic
gift of Salvador Dali has found its bright reflection in his one of the
most famous painting called " Soft construction with boiled beans –
Premonition of Civil War." (Oil on canvas, 29 5/16x39 3/8 inches, 1936)



The background of the painting is covered with cloudy sky. There is an
inconceivable figure that has human body parts, and the face that is in
total agony. The hand is holding the breast that doesn’t have a body, it
has a head, and a neck with inflated veins, and from there onward comes a
leg that is standing on the other part of human body that stretches out
diagonally. And in the middle of this diagonally stretched body part, there
is a small locker – a design that Dali frequently presented in his
paintings as an illusion of stability of ordinary life. There are beans all
over the ground, and an ordinary man, near this figure looking down to the
ground. The horizon is given low in this picture, covering only small part
of the ground. The picture has an enormous anti-war pathos. It has a very
expressive message in its composition, contrast color combinations, and a
linear composition.
      The unusual gift of Salvador Dali, his overwhelming creativity makes
him a genius of his age. His art presents the humanistic symbol of his
century. Surrealism is not an artistic movement; it is an artistic thinking
of how to interact with world. When one journalist asked Salvador Dali
“what the surrealism was, Dali answered that Surrealism is Dali himself,
and he had a full right to say so.

                                 Works Cited

Ades, Dawn. Dali’s optical Illusion. Wadworth Athenaeum Museum of Art in
association with Yale University Pres Ney Haven and London, 1999.
Descharnes, Robert. Dali. Harry N. Abrams Publishers, New York 2000
Faerna, Jose Maria, ed. Dali. Trans. Teresa Waldes. Harry n. Abrams, Inc.,
Publishers 2000.
Gibson, Ian. The Shameful life of Salvador Dali. W. W. Norton & Company:
New York, 1998.