Spring Very Much in Bloom in the Works of Salvador Dali
By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dali Historian
It’s almost spring. When a man’s thoughts turn to…..Salvador Dali, of course. And with spring nearly on the doorstep, let’s throw open the windows and look at some works by Dali that, to a greater or lesser extent, exude at least some thoughts of spring.
I’m thinking flowers, butterflies, and perhaps even a dandelion or two.
To say Salvador Dali was a complex figure is a colossal understatement. Dali was into everything. He could paint a giraffe on fire to symbolize impending war, then turn around and create a lovely still life or landscape painting that left you breathless.
Without question, the man famous for delving into the phantasmagoric or unabashedly erotic was also a man who knew beauty and how to share it with his legions of admirers.
Beautiful Dali works that suggest spring’s reawakening and the splendor of emerging flowers, flitting butterflies and more, can be found in full bloom within Dali’s prolific and diverse oeuvre.
He appreciated, of course, the symbolism of things, and – while not often actually described as such – Dali was indeed a “symbolist” painter. A surrealist, to be sure, but we might sometimes need to be reminded that so much of Dali’s surrealism was symbolism, whether informed by Freudian influences or by other factors.
The rose, for example, is of course a classic symbol of beauty and love, of romantic desire. In Catholicism, red roses are a symbol of the Virgin Mary. (Ironically, the rose can also connote mortality, because the flower wilts; and even hidden cruelty, because it has thorns).
Butterflies symbolize transformation or metamorphosis, a natural phenomenon by which Dali was intrigued. Butterflies also represent nature’s beauty, and Dali was in fact a painter of beauty – especially in his post-surrealist period. The butterfly is also symbolic of lightness or weightlessness, and of fragility.
Even dandelions make an appearance in Salvador Dali’s work, most notably in the charming and whimsical dancing dandelion that, as I recall, appeared in one of his wonderful magazine ads for Bryan Hosiery. And also in an interesting painting – eventually used in a tapestry as well – called “Battle Around a Dandelion.” Dandelions are a symbol of evanescence or transience.
And, of course, there’s a host of Dali paintings and prints in which flowers – a single one or a rich bouquet – are the main attraction. Below, then, a montage of Dali works featuring flowers, butterflies, and dandelions. Because hope springs eternal…and hopefully spring will flower soon!