Art of the 20th Century



 



Art Styles in 20th century Art Map



 

   

 

 

 

 



Salvador Dali




If You Act the Genius, You Will Be One!  1910-1928
The Proof of Love  1929-1935
The Conguest of the Irrational 1936-1939
The Triumph of Avida Dollars  1939-1946
The Mystical Manifesto  1946-1962
Paths to Immortality  1962-1989

_______

appendix

Illustrations:
Biblia Sacrata, Marquis de Sade, Faust, The Art of Love,
Don Quixote, Divine Comedy, Decameron,
Casanova, Les Caprices de Goya

 


 


 





Paths to Immortality  



1962-1989



 

 

I'm not the clown!" cried Dali in his own defence. "But in its naivety this monstrously cynical society does not see who is simply putting on a serious act the better to hide his madness. I cannot say it often enough: I am not mad. My clear-sightedness has acquired such sharpness and concentration that, in the whole of the century, there has been no more heroic or more astounding personality than me, and apart from Nietzsche (who finished by going mad, though) my equal will not be found in other centuries either. My painting proves it."

In point of fact, Dali observed the gradual decline of modern art with contempt. As it slid into nothingness, he laughed to see what Duchamp's ready-mades in Dada and Surrealist days had led to. He was amused to see the urinal Duchamp had exhibited in New York in 1911 as a sculpture titled Fontaine. "The first person to compare the cheeks of a young woman with a rose was plainly a poet. The second, who repeated the comparison, was probably an idiot. All the theories of Dadaism and Surrealism are being monotonously repeated: their soft contours have prompted countless soft objects. The globe is being smothered in ready-mades. The fifteen-metre loaf of bread is now fifteen kilometres long... People have already forgotten that the founder of Dadaism, Tristan Tzara, stated in his manifesto in the very infancy of the movements: 'Dada is this. Dada is that... Either way, it's crap.' This kind of more or less black humour is foreign to the new generation. They are genuinely convinced that their neo-Dadaism is subtler than the art of Praxiteles."
 


Dali painting "The Medusa of Sleep" on Gala's forehead
 

Dali recalled: "During the last war, between Arcachon and Bordeaux, Marcel Duchamp and I talked about the newly awoken interest in preparations using excrement; tiny secretions taken from the navel were considered 'luxury editions'. I replied that I would have liked to have a navel secretion of Raphael. Now a well-known Pop artist is selling artists' excrement in Verona, in extremely stylish flacons, as a luxury item. When Duchamp realised that he had scattered the ideas of his youth to the winds, until he himself was left with none, he most aristocratically declined to play the game, and prophetically announced that other young men were specializing in the chess match of contemporary art; and then he began to play chess..."

And Dali observed: "At the time there were just seventeen people in Paris who understood the ready-mades - the very few ready-mades by Marcel Duchamp. Nowadays there are seventeen million who understand them. When the day comes that every object that exists is a ready-made, there will no longer be any ready-mades at all. When that day comes, originality will consist in creating a "work of art out of sheer urgent compulsion. The moral attitude of the ready-made consists in avoiding contact with reality. Ready-mades have subconsciously influenced the photo-realists, leading them to paint ready-mades by hand. There can be no doubt that if Vermeer van Delft or Gerard Dou had been alive in 1973, they would have had no objection to painting the interior of a car or the outside of a telephone box..."


Medusa's Head
1962

 

 


The Alchemist
1962

 


Galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid
1963

 

 

Dali declared: "It is quite correct that I have made use of photography throughout my life. I stated years ago that painting is merely photography done by hand, consisting of super-fine images the sole significance of which resides in the fact that they were seen by a human eye and recorded by a human hand. Every great work of art that I admire was copied from a photograph. The inventor of the magnifying glass was born in the same year as Vermeer. Not enough attention has yet been paid to this fact. And I am convinced that Vermeer von Delft used a mirror to view his subjects and make tracings of them. Praxiteles, most divine of all sculptors, copied his bodies faithfully, without the slightest departure. Velazquez had a similar respect for reality, with complete chastity..." And: "The hand of a painter must be so faithful that it is capable of automatically correcting constituents of Nature that have been distorted by a photograph. Every painter must have an ultra-academic training. It is only through virtuosity of such an order that the possibility of something else becomes available: Art."

Dali prophetically added: "I foresee that the new art will be what I term 'quantum realism'. It will take into account what the physicists call quantum energy, what mathematics calls chance, and what the artists call the imponderable: Beauty. The picture of tomorrow will be a faithful image of reality, but one will sense that it is a reality pervaded with extraordinary life, corresponding to what is known as the discontinuity of matter. Velazquez and Vermeer were divisionists. They already intuited the fears of modern Man. Nowadays, the most talented and sensitive painters merely express the fear of indeterminism. Modern science says that nothing really exists, and one sees scientists passionately debating photographic plates on which there is demonstrably nothing of a material nature. So artists who paint their pictures out of nothing are not so far wrong. Still, it is only a transitional phase. The great artist must be capable of assimilating nothingness into his painting. And that nothingness will breathe life into the art of tomorrow."

 


Hercules Lifts the Skin of the Sea and Stops Venus for an Instant from Waking Love
1963

 

 

On 15 October 1962, Dali exhibited The Battle of Tetuan in the Palacio del Tinell in Barcelona, alongside the picture by Mariano Fortuny that had inspired it. To Dali's way of thinking, it was the start of a war of pictures. In his own work, as in Fortuny's, virtuosity was a function of carefully quantified patchwork and dabs, from which substance the images emerged suddenly. Dali illuminatingly commented that when he considered the patterning of print on a newspaper, what he saw was The Battle of Tetuan. Or soccer games. In the Diary of a Genius he wrote (3 September 1963):

"I have always been in the habit of looking at 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. It even happened that before half time, I had to go and rest, so exhausted was I by the ups and downs of the game. 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 worthy of Phidias.

I shall have these newspapers, in outsize enlargements, quantified by fly droppings... This idea occurs to me when I notice the beauty of certain newspaper collages, yellowed and a bit flyspecked, by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

This evening, while I am writing, I am listening to the radio, which is resounding with the boom of guns that are deservedly being fired for Braque's funeral. Braque - who is famous among other things for his aesthetic discovery of news-paper collages. And I dedicate in homage to him my most transcendent and much more instantaneously famous bust of Socrates quantified by flies."
 


The Battle of Tetuan
1961-62

 


Arabs. Study for "The Battle of Tetuan"
1960-61

 


Study for "The Battle of Tetuan"
1961

 

Arabs. Study for "The Battle of Tetuan"
1961

 

Study for "The Battle of Tetuan"
1961

 

Study for "The Battle of Tetuan"
1962

 
 


The Electrocular Monocle and the Paranoiac-Critical Method
 

Dali took a lively interest in every kind of scientific development, and in spring 1962 he returned from America with an "electrocular monocle". This astounding gadget had been developed by the electronics section of a major aeronautics company. A recorder registered images and transferred them televisually to a telescopic tube that substituted for a screen, a telescope so constructed that the eye could distinguish the televised image yet at the same time see everything in its field of vision in a perfectly normal way. For Dali, the painter needed a second type of vision, occasioned by irritation of the retina. This double vision, which others were prompting with the help of mescahn, hallucinogenic mushrooms or LSD, could be caused by the "electrocular monocle" instead. In conversations with a professor named Jayle, a leading optics specialist, over the course of several years, Dali had been expressing the wish to have a kind of contact lens filled with fluid introduced into the eye - so that images controlled from outside could even be registered during sleep.

 


Mohammed's Dream (Homage to Fortuny)
1961

 


Arab
1962

 
 

Dali was so excited by the "electrocular monocle" that he immediately had one installed in the Catalan beret he frequently wore. Dali - it is worth mentioning -never wore a hat proper, but nonetheless liked to cover his head with the most curious of headgear: for him, anything that touched his hair possessed symbolic meaning. In his youth he had shaved his head for the sake of doing so - to balance a sea urchin. He was once even observed scooping out the soft inside of a crouston loaf, which resembles a tricorn hat in shape, and entering the most exclusive club in Figueras, the "Sport Figuerenc", wearing his impromptu hat — causing a scandal amongst the members. Later in London he made a public appearance wearing a diving suit, and posed for photographer Cecil Beaton in a fencer's mask.

If we are to grasp Dali's art correctly, we need to see how capable he was of reigning in his imagination and his dreams, in order to suit them to the subjects of his paintings. His "paranoiac-critical" activity could be visited on random materials suddenly and unexpectedly. For example, at a time when Fortuny's The Battle of Tetuan had become an obsession with Dali, he happened upon a major component of the picture he himself planned to paint on the same subject - in the American news magazine Time. One winter evening in New York he discovered, in a trodden and crumpled copy he found in the snow, a photograph of a fantastic Arabian scene, and, quickly picking it up, declared: "I have found my battle of Tetuan." His imagination was always rapid, as this anecdote concerning a newspaper photograph reminds us.

 


Arabs - the Death of Raimundus Lullus
1963

 

Arabs - the Death of Raymond Lulle
1963

 

Desoxyribonucleic Acid Arabs
c. 1963

 

Study for Deoxyribonucleic Acid Arabs
1963

 

Study for Deoxyribonucleic Acid Arabs
c. 1963

 
 

As a whole, Dali' s work as a painter was governed by a quest ruled by the need to discipline his inspiration and technique. In 1948, at a time when he was working on Leda Atomica, he began to take an active interest in the Divine Proportions laid down in the 15th century by Fra Luca Pacioli. With the assistance of Prince Matila Ghyka, a Romanian mathematician, Dali spent almost three months calculating the mathematical disposition of Leda Atomica. In all his works to follow, his procedure was the same; he used the golden section, the canon, and the principles of divine proportion. Not long after, in the Nova Geometria of Raimundus Lullus, he discovered arguably the most perfect square in aesthetics, known as the Figura Magistralis. Lullus's treatise was taken by the architect of El Escorial, Juan de Herrera, as his guide when he composed his discourse on cubic form; and Dali drew upon this work in the composition of paintings such as Corpus Hypercubus, now in New York's Metropolitan Museum. As with most great artists, it was in fact an innate sixth sense for proportion that enabled Dali to run the gamut of the aesthetic range. He was able to endow the rules with life as he desired, whether they derived from antiquity, the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Every good painter, Dali said, should proceed as Velazquez did: using his sense of proportion and obeying every rule in the book to the letter in the first version of a painting - and then smashing up the lot, and indeed standing several of the rules on their heads.

 


Macrophotographic Self-Portrait with
the Appearance of Gala
1962

 

Macrophotographic Self-Portrait with
the Appearance of Gala
(detail)
1962

 
 

A custom in Spain is for a woman to place her maiden name before her married name and to associate the former with the latter through a possessive "of", to emphasize that the woman belongs to that particular man. The title of a book by Robert Descharnes, Dalide Gala, thus inevitably suggests that Dali belonged to Gala - and is quite correct to do so. It was Gala who inspired Dali, Gala who kept him under control, Gala who saw to the practicalities of their life together. In the Secret Life, Dali confirmed that he would have been nothing without Gala. It is useful to read Descharnes' book if we are to understand his work, and to see that Gala was not only his wife but also adopted the roles of his mother and sister. Psychiatrist Pierre Roumeguere wrote a study of Dali's personality which nicely complements Dali's own mythology of Gala. In it, Dali is cast as Pollux, while his dead brother is Castor and Gala Helen. That is to say, after having been Leda's mother, Gala became the immortal sister of Pollux, and Leda's daughter. Roumeguere's theory changes the contours of the Port Lligat house: suddenly we have to accommodate an extra oval, the egg in which Gala and Dali were united, in our ideas.
 



 


Fifty Abstract Paintings Which as Seen from Two Yards Change into
Three Lenins Masquerading as Chinese and as Seen from Six Yards
Appear as the Head of a Royal Bengal Tiger
1963
 


Study for "Fifty Abstract Pictures Which as Seen from Two Yards Change into
Three Lenins Masquerading as Chinese and as Seen From Six Yards
Appear as the Head of a Royal Bengal Tiger"
1963
 

 

From now on, Dali lived with two idees fixes: that of the Dioscuri, and that of cybernetic science. His mind was busy looking for correlations between the two areas. One of the preliminary sketches for The Battle of Tetuan bears the dedication, "For Helen from her Dioscuri". Dali was excited to discover that the word "cybernetic" was etymologically derived from the Greek "kybernetes", a steersman or pilot. For Plato, the pilot's task was clear. The captain chose a harbour into which the craft was to be sailed. The helmsman adjusted the rudder in order to steer the vessel in the required direction. And the pilot ensured that the helmsman was continually aware how to use his rudder in order to reach the harbour. In this joint effort, the captain took the decision on a goal, the helmsman steered, and the pilot gave guidance. The pilot, in other words, is cybernetic in terms of his activity; and this derivation and meaning of the word struck Dali powerfully, since he saw himself as the pilot of his own life. But he went a step further and found a way of associating this with his other current obsession, with the Dioscuri. Was it not the task of Castor and Pollux, in antiquity, to guide ships ? Having made this connection, Dali averred that, with the remote guidance of the Dioscuri, he was piloting the boat of their life, with Gala's hand firmly on the rudder.

 


Venus with Drawers
1964

 


Venus' Otorhinologic Head
1964

 


The Sacred Heart of Jesus
1962


 

St. George and the Dragon
1962


 

Twist in the Studio of Velazquez
1962


 

Vision of Fatima
1962


 

Madonna with a Mystical Rose
1963


 

Madonna with a Rose
1964


 

Untitled (Still Life with Lilies)
1963


 

The Judgement of Paris
1963


 

Portrait of My Dead Brother
1963


 

Landscape with Flies
1964

 

Untitled (St. John)
1964


 

The Sun of Dali
1965


 

Female Nude (after restoration)
1964


 

Bust of Dante
1964
 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy