Salvador Dali 1930-1960[Singles]
Macbeth (page 82 Act IV, Scene I)
Medium: Original drawing on paper
Macbeth (page 82 Act IV, Scene I)
Salvador Dali painted for nearly three-quarters of a century. His works are among the most memorable images of the 20th century, and his influence has informed virtually every component of modern society - not only what hangs in museums, but also in terms of popular culture, fashion, cinema, advertising, and book illustration, among many other areas.
His famous flaccid timepieces in his 1931 Persistence of Memory are elements in what is arguably the single most universally recognized painting not only of the surrealist movement, of which Dali was the kingpin, but of all art of the last 100 years.
Dali's creative genius led to a diverse catalog of paintings, lithographs, etchings, drawings, sculpture, watercolors, objects d' art, and commercial designs spanning lipstick to hosiery, ash trays to dinner plates, belt buckles to postage stamps.
He wrote two autobiographies, a novel, a book of poetry whose title and theme relate to his famous painting of the same name - Metamorphosis of Narcissus - and illustrated a spectacular spectrum of books, from the Jerusalem Bible to Alice in Wonderland; the Divine Comedy to Don Quixote; the surrealist tales of Maurice Sandoz to Shakespeare's As You Like It and Macbeth.
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As a general in Shakespeare's famous tale, Macbeth was dubiously known for the unusually vicious slayings of his enemies on the battlefield. Salvador Dali has captured that sense of violence in this extraordinary drawing, which is extraordinary because of its undeniably savage imagery as well as the absolute brilliance of its draftsmanship.
In painstaking detail, Dali doesn't merely show us contorted, dismembered, eviscerated figures - he practically makes us feel their pain and smell the fear and the anguish! Indeed, this recalls one laudable published critique of Dali's draftsmanship, in which he was being compared to Picasso. Picasso's horses are very well painted, the critic opined, but with Dali - with Dali's horses - you can practically smell the sweat!
It was a dramatic way of declaring that Dali's realism makes one weak in the knees, and here, in this spectacular and superb Macbeth drawing, Dali portrays a savagely convoluted scene with a sense of detail that has always enabled him to, in effect, make the unreal real.
Indeed, it's inarguable that the very success of Dali's surrealism hinged greatly on his technical skill, for such dreams - and nightmares - could never have been as convincing as they were had they been executed by a lesser talent. Such fantasy demands a Renaissance-like mastery of form and line, color and perspective, to make it translate convincingly from the mind's eye of the artist to that of the museum-going public.
The year he illustrated Macbeth (1946), Dali - living in the United States once WW II began, and remaining there until his return to Spain in 1949 - also illustrated The Autobiography of Bevenuto Cellini, among other volumes; painted several marvelous pictures to launch the perfume, Desert Flower; illustrated covers for Vogue magazine; and produced his famous canvas, The Temptation of St. Anthony.
Dali's interest in Shakespeare also carried over to a fine set of 15 original engravings, titled Much Ado about Shakespeare, and a set of 16 original etchings, Shakespeare II.
Macbeth, the drawing here, is really a museum piece, a connoisseur piece, wonderfully executed and exuding that soft, fluid, technically brilliant and imaginatively mind-bending quality that puts Salvador Dali in a category all his own.