Salvador Dali 1961-On[Singles]
Double Journalistic Image
Medium: Gouache on paper
Double Journalistic Image
Salvador Dali was a complex man with an imagination and a thirst for experimentation that were without parallel. One of the cornerstones of his artistic style and intellectual explorations was the concept of double-imagery, where an object or figure is both what it may appear to be and what it simultaneously transforms itself into.
The hidden and double-image fascinated Dali from an early point in his career, his first double-image paintings including The Invisible Man of 1929 and Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion of 1930. Indeed, Dali's unique Paranoiac-Critical creative method was rooted in the notion that true paranoiacs often report seeing or imagining double images and hidden images. The difference, for Dali, was that - through his Paranoiac-Critical method - he could gain control of those paranoid-like images and add the "critical" part to the equation: transcribing such visions to canvas, so that we may enjoy them as well.
Double Image Journalistic thus combines two key influences in Dali's work with optical phenomena: his trained, practiced ability to call up paranoid-like double- or hidden imagery, and his penchant for using newspaper text as a source of inspiration.
Dali, who could take practically any outward trappings of daily life and leverage them for a creative outcome, was fond of examining the white space surrounding printed text in newspapers. This white or negative space often suggested for Dali images with which he could work.
He called them rivers of white space, and he wrote about this influence in his important, autobiographical book, Diary of a Genius: "I have always been in the habit of looking at the papers upside down. Instead of reading the news, I look at it and I see it. Even as an adolescent, I saw, among the typographical spirals, and just by squinting, soccer games as they would look on television....Today, holding the papers upside down, I see divine things moving at such a pace that I decide, in a sublime inspiration of Dalinian pop art, to have pieces of newspapers repainted which contain aesthetic treasures that are often worth of Phidias." (The exact concept was also used to create his India ink and wash drawing, Bust of Socrates of 1963, which can be seen on The Salvador Dali Society, Inc.'s website: www.dalinet.com).
In Double Image Journalistic - based on images that appeared in the Sunday News of February 18, 1973 - Dali has done exactly what he proclaimed in his Diary entry: he has turned the newspaper upside down, and in this case has used photos of people, rather than rivers of white surrounding text, to demonstrate his uncanny ability to see beyond the obvious.
Ironically, as a result of Dali's retouching in original gouache, one portrait - that of a French soldier - becomes a large male face when turned upside down, while the other three are large male faces that, when turned on their heads, become French soldiers!
Visual puns, hidden images, double images - they were all part of the Dali lexicon, as he painted in a language meant to speak volumes about how what we think we see may be something entirely different from what's actually there. That certainly applies to the paranoiac personality, and Dali's Paranoiac-Critical method is thus cited by some scholars as being among the leading contributions the Catalan genius made to Surrealism.
Dali's clever and interesting retouching to create Double Image Journalistic is not without precedent. In a February 15, 1975 edition of The New York Times, once again using gouache, together with collage, he ingeniously transformed a man waving a checkered flag at a car race into a large bearded figure. The ingenious Dali did a similar thing with a photograph of Hitler, turning his infamous mustache into trees and their reflection in a lake in Dali's Metamorphosis of Hitler's Face into a Moonlit Landscape with Accompaniment - Serenade by Tosseli (1958).
In a direct link with the French soldier motif of Double Image Journalistic, Dali took a quite similar approach in his 1947 dual-image cover illustration for Sunset magazine, transforming a woman's face with full red lips to - when viewed upside down - a uniformed French solider, those full red lips now forming the brim of his hat.
Finally, in an even more direct and dramatic parallel to Double Image Journalistic, Dali retouched a cover of Paris Match magazine (12 October 1939), transforming a seated soldier and background landscaping into the nose and mouth, and eyes, respectively, of a soldier's face, in an eye-fooling work he titled Apparition of a War Scene on the Face of Lieutenant Deschanel.
The year 1973, when Double Image Journalistic was created, was quite a year for Dali, with a strong focus on visual research. This was when he became the first artist in history to truly achieve the third-dimension in painting, thanks to his work with Dr. Dennis Gabor, the inventor of holography. Dali's exhibition of holograms at the Knoedler Gallery in New York that year was unprecedented, revealing his creative assemblages that synthesized oil painting and laser beam holograms into a whole new house of creativity. It was also the year he was passionately immersed in another house of sorts: his remarkable museum in Spain, the Teatru-Museu Dali (Dali Theatre-Museum).