Salvador Dali Prints and Paintings Surrealistically Celebrate Spring!
By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dali Historian/Writer
With spring around that proverbial corner, sometimes a Salvador Dali aficionado’s thoughts turn to flowers, and Dali definitely had a feminine side. In fact, many of his works – even those with no flowers in them – exude a distinctly feminine touch.
So in the spirit of the imminent arrival of spring, let’s take a look at a few Dali works – prints as well as paintings – that celebrate Surrealism in a flowery fashion. We’ll start with some prints (which can be lithographs, etchings, engravings, or intaglio).
A quite popular one is his Flora Dalinea (Dalinean Flowers) suite of 1968. This has got to be one of the finest examples of Dali’s delightful imagination and undeniable humor.
His melding of human and vegetable, as it were, is uncanny. Musical Lily is of particular delight, where a lily serves as the pavillon (horn) of a gramophone, while vinyl records spin on the stems! And let’s not forget Chrysanthemum, where the center of the flower offers up a fried egg, sunny side up – one with a side of bacon! Delectably Dalinian!
Another set of Dali prints worthy of our attention is the Surrealistic Flowers suite of 1972, with such titles as Kissing Tulips, Roses of Memory, and Elephant Lily. Spring Explosive and The Sacred Springtime, of 1965 and 1966 respectively, are other lovely examples of flowers in Dali’s printmaking oeuvre. And of course he paid tribute to his wife in the print, Gala’s Bouquet.
I’m especially taken with jasmines – a sure sign of spring – and the flower, symbolizing purity, appears in a number of great Dali paintings, including Santiago El Grande, The Virgin of Guadalupe, Galatae, and Jasmines. Occasionally, they also showed up behind Dali’s ear or affixed to his mustache!
Speaking of oils on canvas, let’s move on to some truly spectacular Salvador Dali paintings, where flowers bloom proudly. The first one that springs to mind is The Virgin of Guadalupe. The orbit of roses encircling the Madonna figure features some of the most beautiful roses ever painted by any artist of any era. Wow!
Of course, we must not let much time pass before mentioning Meditative Rose. This work just might be the single most beautiful painting ever to come off of the easel of Salvador Dali. A debatable assertion, of course, but many would agree. I know plenty of mostly women Dali admirers who have a reproduction of this work hanging on their office wall (and a few men, too).
Woman with Head of Roses was an early surrealist canvas — seen here as a Dali print — which even gave rise to some public display of Surrealism in Trafalgar Square.
Whether the symbolism leans toward beauty or eroticism, the rose has figured prominently throughout Dali’s career – perhaps reaching its apogee on a large scale in the great Hallucinogenic Toreador of 1970 (possibly my favorite of all Dali paintings, on permanent view at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida).
Flowers sprouted up in far more Dali works than I’ve noted here, but I hope I’ve provided a hint of spring, coming soon to a weather forecast near you.
[All images gratefully used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes]