Posted by: PaulChimera
The “soft” or melting watch or clock is of course the signature image immediately associated with the kingpin of Surrealism, Salvador Dali. But “soft” turned into “exploding,” or, rather, dematerializing, after Dali’s artistic sensibilities were forever altered by the dropping of the atomic bomb over Japan in World War II.
In his iconic and utterly fascinating oil painting of 1949, “La Montre Molle” (“The Soft Watch”), we see how the famous soft watch that catapulted Dali to immortality, thanks to his 1931 “Persistence of Memory” (arguably the most important and best known surrealist painting of all time) has now morphed to a state of decomposition or dematerialization – a nod to then-new discoveries in nuclear physics.
Always science-minded, Dali was captivated by this new understanding of the discontinuity of matter, of how even the hardest and most dense of material (such as a watch) is actually revelatory of a kind of intra-atomic choreography, with protons, electrons and neutrons “rumping and jumping about!”, as the painter once amusingly described it.
Thus, what do we see in “La Montre Molle”? Essentially the same watch found draped over the rock or ledge in “Persistence” – even with a fly appearing on it, as in the 1931 work – but now re-imagined, floating above the surface, and bursting into atomic-like particles. Some of those elemental particles, along the perimeter of the watch, are shaped like rhinoceros horns – another Dalinian obsession, since he learned that the perfect logarithmic curve or spiral – an underlying tenet of mathematical perfection when composing well-balanced paintings – is found naturally in the horn of the rhino! To this blogger’s eye, the 1, 2, 8 and 10 seem to have vanished from the face of the watch – perhaps vaporized by Dali’s surrealist brand of “atomic energy!”
Interestingly, a moth appears in the lower left of the privately-owned canvas, perhaps representing how the old – Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” of ’31 – is now overshadowed by the new: soft watches exploding with new energy and vision to usher in the atomic age of the 1940s. The iridescent blue and green hues and the quality of light in this work give it a certain dynamism and vitality consistent with the Mediterranean ambiance with which Dali was so in love.
Posted by: PaulChimera
Let’s get a bit sexual today, shall we? In fact, rather overtly so in Salvador Dali’s erotic “Catalan Bread” of 1932 (oil on canvas, Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida). It was perfectly logical — which is to say, perfectly surreal — that the 28-year-old Dali would combine several patently sexual images, together with a staple of Catalonia cuisine: a bread loaf.
In this case, the firm loaf’s phallic properties are quite undeniable, erect, elongated and sheathed in what might easily be seen as a condom. It’s even held in its hardened state by a string suggestively wrapped around part of the tip.
The Freudian ink well (which itself, without the pen, resembles a female breast) and the the pen inserted into it certainly symbolize the female and male genders, respectively, while the right end of the oddly shaped bread looks a bit like a female breast, with a decidedly pronounced nipple.
What better way, moreover, to make this peculiar but compelling picture supremely Daliesque than to drape a signature, flaccid soft watch over the it!
The subject of food in general and bread in particular had long fascinated Dali, among whose favorite foods were pink grapefruit and sea urchins. Two of his best known and most beautiful paintings are his two “Basket of Bread” versions, and there were others — including the charmingly titled “Two Pieces of Bread Expressing the Sentiment of Love.” Dali was a master at naming his paintings!
The influence of Freud on Dali and the surrealist was enormous, and Freud contended that our dreams frequently reveal repressed sexual thoughts. Indeed, he said virtually all dreams are “wish fulfillment.” Perhaps one night, Dali dreamed of an elongated loaf of Catalan bread, being prepared for a function for which it was not intended! The beauty and the magic of surrealism, and Dali’s approach to it, was that virtually anything was possible within the mysterious, often sexual world of dreams and the subconscious mind. That “lack of rules,” so to speak, is what appealed to Dali about Surrealism in the first place.
Posted by: Joe
Sia Tonga This dynamic piece is refreshing to view. Dali’s over use of the color blue is cool/chilling and tainted greens depicted in the butterflies may reflect the strength of the alpine itself, but, also a magnitude of distance. The rigid harsh lines of the alps may correspond with raged emotions combined with cool blue to give a calm, yet chilling effect. I can almost breath the wisp of fine air reaching the mountain tops, could I be running out of oxygen?.. Extroadinary..
Posted by: PaulChimera
It’s easy to forget that Salvador Dali – master of surrealism and among the most interesting, confounding, and photographed celebrities of his time – came from quite traditional artistic beginnings. That fact is exemplified with clarity and charm in “Woman at the Window,” a purely delightful oil on canvas he painted at the tender age of 22.
Just a few years beyond his teens, Dali obviously showed impressive technical skill, faithfully capturing the Catalonian region, with the coastal mountains rising in the distance. The specific reference to Figueres, where Dali was born and grew up – and where today his Dali Museum (Teatru-Museu Dali) stands – is denoted by the Ford automobile factory sign seen in the right distance. The white cloth in the left foreground and the architectural details further demonstrate the young Dali’s adroit handling of his craft.
The main figure busy sewing in the Dali home in Figueres is a portrait of Ana Maria Dali, the painter’s junior by a couple of years and, before Gala came on the scene, his favorite female model. It’s speculated that the subject of lace and sewing may be Dali’s association with an almost obsessive favorite painting of his: “The Lacemaker” by one of his most revered masters – Vermeer. Indeed, Dali did both a Paranoiac-Critical interpretation of the Vermeer masterpiece, whose underlying composition was made up of rhinoceros horns, as well as an almost exact duplicate of the original by the Dutch painter. And many other Dali paintings make a clear nod to Vermeer’s imagery and style.
The unwitting irony in “Woman at the Window,” as we contemplate it in modern times, is that the tranquility and gentility of the scene stand in sharp contrast to the stormy relationship that would ultimately ensue between Dali and his younger sister and only sibling. Even the book Ana Maria went on to write about Dali (“View by his Sister”) was denounced by the artist, who felt it cast him in an unflattering light. What’s more, this 1926 realist canvas stands generally in marked contrast to what Dali would begin to become only about three years later – the supremely talented and famous kingpin of Surrealism, where such grounded scenes of maidens sewing at a window would be replaced by melting clocks, burning giraffes, and a parade of Freudian symbols. “Woman at the Window” is owned by the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, Figueres, Spain, and, in this blogger’s view, is simply one of Salvador Dali’s finest works from this early period in his career.