Around the world in 8 Salvador Dalí paintings

Around the world in 8 Salvador Dalí paintings

Musement takes a look at eight of Salvador Dalí’s most representative paintings.

Salvador Dalí Domènech (1904–1989), along with Pablo Picasso, was one of the most important Spanish artists of the 20th century. A surrealist painter, as well as a writer, decorator, sculptor and thinker, Dalí was a multifaceted character who had a peculiarly eccentric personality that was known well beyond his birthplace of Figueres. Inspired by the subconscious, his work is closely linked to his own story and is found throughout the world. Most of his paintings are housed in homeland at the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, the Salvador Dalí House in Port Lligat, and the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol.

We have previously taken a look at the most emblematic works of great artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso. Now we take a look at some of Salvador Dalí’s most representative paintings.

1. “The Persistence of Memory”, 1931

Did you know that “The Persistence of Memory”, Dalí’s most famous work, was painted in just a couple of hours? And that the artist was inspired to paint it after having had Camembert cheese for dinner? The symbolism that this work represents in its distinct wavy clocks (representing the deformation of time with the landscape of a sunrise in the village of Port Lligat) rendered this oil painting emblematic of the artist.

Where: MoMA, New York

2. “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening”, 1944

This surrealist oil-on-wood painting is captivating because of the harmony of the figures and colors within the composition. Freudian theory has gained popularity when it comes to explaining the symbolism behind the painting. In other words, it expresses Dalí’s willingness to represent the subconscious through images created while sleeping. Thus, in the work, we see his muse, Gala, sleeping and levitating with tranquil scenery in the background and a bee that provokes her dream. In the upper part are two pouncing tigers, one of which is jumping out of fish that is jumping out of the pomegranate as well as a bayonet.

Where: Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

3. “The Temptation of St. Anthony”, 1946

St. Anthony is the protagonist of this famous Dali painting in which he is portrayed as a kneeling beggar in the desert protecting himself from the lurking temptations by raising the cross. These temptations are represented, first of all, with a horse and a line of deformed elephants with extremely long legs. The horse represents the temptation of triumph while the woman on top of the first elephant represents the temptation of sex, and the pyramids of the two elephants in the back represent the temptation of greed.

Where: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels

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4. “Figure at the Window”, 1925

Dalí had not yet adopted the surrealist style that so defines him in this early work. In this initial stage of experimentation and learning, the artist used realism to represent his 17-year-old sister Anna Maria looking out the window with her back to us. Blue tones predominate as the feminine figure invites us to contemplate the panorama through the window with her. This was painted during a family vacation in Cadaqués.

Where: Reina Sofía Museum, Madrid

5. “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”, 1951

The “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” stands out for its perspective of a crucified Jesus painted from above, making his head the central point of the work. Demonstrating his great technical ability with chiaroscuro, Dalí was also able to depict the bay of Port Lligat at the bottom of the painting with a mystical air and two fishermen who, in reality, are famous painters.

Where: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

6. “The Great Masturbator”, 1929

With a strong biographical component, “The Great Masturbator” reveals Dalí’s obsessions, specifically with sex, which we can guess simply by looking at the title of the work. A close examination of the composition shows that the artist represents a mix of a human head and yellow-shaded rocks. Amongst the painting’s most important elements is the grasshopper, an insect that terrified Dalí since childhood, on the figure’s mouth. The hook represents ties with his family who wanted him to return to a traditional lifestyle, while the lion symbolizes the artist’s sexual desires.

Where: Reina Sofía Museum, Madrid

7. “Metamorphosis of Narcissus”, 1937

Another of the most representative pieces by Salvador Dalí revolves around the Greek myth of the young Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection after the goddess Aphrodite punished him for rejecting the nymph Echo. Narcissus drowned trying to kiss his own reflection in the water of the lake, and a flower with his name sprouted from his body. Although Dalí did not strictly adhere to the myth in his painting, he was inspired by the story and the psychoanalytical concept of narcissism derived from it to represent the libido over the body itself.

Where: Tate Modern, London

8. “Sleep”, 1837

This oil on canvas depicts a sleeping bodyless head—a soft structure being held up by crutches. It evokes sleepiness, which is extremely important in surrealist work for its connection with the subconscious world. However, it is said that Dalí’s great inspiration for creating this piece was the anguish provoked during the Spanish Civil War and the desire to free himself from the horror through sleep.

Where: Edward James Collection

Cover photo credit: WikiImages from Pixabay

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