Posted by: PaulChimera
Somehow the big Salvador Dali painting, Landscape with Girl Skipping Rope (1936) has tended to fly under the radar in Dali’s oeuvre. When we discuss his large masterworks, I have no idea why this canvas never seems to make the list.
Unless it’s because the work, like Dali’s Dream of Venus (see earlier blog post), is a triptych, though I don’t know why that should make any difference.
Landscape with Girl Skipping Rope, while beautiful and adroitly painted, as always, is also puzzling to me. Why would Dali paint such a massive, three-section canvas that’s almost entirely a large, open, empty space?
What we do know is that Salvador Dali was fascinated by the double-image of a girl skipping rope and how her form echoes the shape of a bell in a tower, which we see at the top of the tower in the painting’s middle distance. A nearly identical structure appears in Dali’s Poetry of America of 1943. And the rope-skipping girl is a motif found in many other Dali works – paintings as well as such prints as Transcendent Passage. Surely it all harks back to images from his childhood, many of which he tenaciously hung onto throughout his adult life.
One theory I have about the open, empty space in this picture is that it might have been inspired by the iconic and haunting Christina’s World by American painter Andrew Wyeth. Another, perhaps more likely, is that Dali’s dreams frequently featured these kinds of endless areas of empty, often eerie spaces in which small, seemingly helpless or at least vulnerable figures found themselves.
A few years ago, the wall-size work – which is in the Museum Boymans van-Beuingen in Rotterdam and formerly owned by Dali patron and friend Edward F.W. James – underwent restoration and conservation efforts, as you can see in the accompanying photograph. For me, it’s kind of intriguing to see the big canvas in a kind of laboratory environment, the beneficiary of meticulous care that will help ensure the surrealist work lasts forever.