Posted by: PaulChimera
Ah, Dali – playing with us again! And that’s OK. Because it is something of an enigma to see such a classical-looking, utterly calm, decidedly non-surrealistic oil on panel emerge from Dali’s studio. This delectable picture – which looks good enough to eat! – could just as easily have been painted by Zurburan, LaTour, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Velasquez….the list goes on.
So what we have is Salvador Dali saying “Stop everything! I want to step out of my surrealism mode, and my Nuclear-Mysticism mode, and remind the world that I could just as well have been famous for being a leading exponent of Realism, instead of Surrealism!”
Basket of Bread is quite simply one of the most precise, painstakingly-painted and beautiful canvases in Dali’s entire oeuvre. I’m reminded of how he used to mention that, oh, by the way, he was a “painter, too,” suggesting that most of his fame centered on his public persona, exhibitionism, and flamboyance, but that, incidentally, he also dabbled in easel painting.
Dabbled indeed. Basket of Bread is as good as anything by the Renaissance masters. Perhaps Salvador Dali was born a few hundred years too late.
In the Master’s own words: “I painted this picture during two consecutive months, four hours each day. It was during this period that the most staggering and sensational episodes of contemporary history took place. This painting was finished one day before the end of the war.
“Bread has always been one of the oldest fetishistic and obsessive subjects in my work, the one to which I have remained the most faithful. I painted this same subject nineteen years ago. In making an accurate comparison of the two pictures, one can study the entire history of painting, from the linear charm of primitivism to the stereoscopical hyper-aestheticism.
“This typically realistic picture is the one which has satisfied my imagination the most….”