Salvador Essay, Research Paper

As a young man, Dali attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in

Madrid. Early recognition of Dali’s talent came with his first one-man

show, held in Barcelona in 1925. He recieved international fame when

three of his paintings were shown in the third annual Carnegie

International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928. In a way, this was was his

prime ’starting block’.

After this, Dali went to Paris the following year, again holding a one-man

show, and at this point Dali joined the Paris Surrealist Group. It was in this

same year that Dali met Gala Eluard when she visited him in Cadaques

with her husband, the French poet Paul Eluard. She became Dali’s lover,

muse, business manager, and the source of inspiration for many of Dali’s

greatest works. They were married in 1934 at a civil ceremony and made

their first trip to America.

Dali emerged as a leader of the Surrealist movement and his painting,

Persistence of Memory (1931) is still one of the best known surrealist

works. But, as war approached, the apolitical Dali clashed with the

Surrealists and he was expelled during a trial conducted by the group in

1934. Although he did exhibit works in international surrealist exhibitions

throughout the decade, asserting that: “le Surrealisme c’est moi” by

1940 he was ready to move into a new era, one that he termed “classic.”

During World War II Dali and his wife, Gala, took refuge in the United

States, returning after the war’s end to Spain. His international reputation

continued to grow, based as much on his flamboyance and flair for

publicity as on his prodigious output of paintings, graphic works, and book

illustrations; and designs for jewellrey, textiles, clothing, costumes, shop

interiors, and stage sets. His writings include poetry, fiction, and a

controversial autobiography, `The Secret Life of Salvador Dali’.

Dali returned to the Catholic faith of his youth and he and Gala were

married in a second ceremony in 1958, this time in a chapel near Girona,


Dali produced two films – `An Andalusian Dog’(1928) and `The Golden

Age’(1930) – in collaboration with Bunuel. Considered surrealist classics,

they are filled with grotesque images. `The Persistence of Memory’,

painted in 1931, is perhaps the most widely recognized surrealist painting

in the world.

In 1974 Dali opened the Teatro Museo Dali in Figueres. This was followed

by retrospectives in Paris and London at the end of the decade.

After Gala’s death in 1982, Dali’s health began to fail. It deteriorated

further after he was severely burned in a fire in Gala’s castle in Pubol,

Spain, in 1984. Two years later, a pacemaker was implanted. Much of the

years 1980-89 were spent in almost total seclusion, first in Pubol and later

in his private room in the Torre Galatea, adjacent to the Teatro Museo


On January 23, 1989, Salvador Dali died in a hospital in Figueres

from heart failure and respiratory complications.

“The Vision of Hell (1962) is a highly

sophisticated painting that juxtaposes

Salvador Dali’s earlier style, Surrealism, (for

which he was most famous) with a more

classical style of religious mysticism which he

developed later in life.

Most critics believe that Dali’s greatest works

were those done during his Surrealistic

period, (before the 1940’s). It was then that

Dali, greatly influenced by Freud’s

Interpretation of Dreams tried to enter the

subconscious world while he was painting, in

order to fathom subconscious imagery. To

this end he tried various methods. For

example, he attempted to simulate insanity while painting, and he tried

setting up his canvas at the base of his bed to paint before sleeping and

upon rising.

During this period of his life certain images repeated themselves in his art:

eyes, hands, noses, bones, crutches, clouds, mountains, blood, soft

bodies and/or objects. In Vision of Hell we find all of these symbols, called

cliches by some critics, but, here they seem to be much more than a trite

convention. They are an expression of Dali himself. Too Dali uses the

techniques of double images, hidden appearances, counter appearances.

It is important to note that although in the early 1960’s (the time when

Vision of Hell was painted) Dali’s art was pejoratively classified as

“academic”, “religious,” and “mystic,” and despite the fact that he was, at

the time, often excluded from the company if Surrealists, Dali deliberately

chose the lapse into his previous surrealist style to accomplish these

portrayal of hell. Note, his old style, surrealism,dominates these portrayal

of hell (the left side of the painting), while his newer style of “Religious

Mysticism” is used on the right side of the painting in the portrayal of Our

Lady of Fatima. A close look at Our Lady of Fatima shows that an

experimental technique was used around the upper body of Our Lady. The

paint has texture. It is interesting to note that Dali does not use his wife

Gala as the subject for his portrayal of Mary, as he had in previous

portrayals of Our Lady (The Madonna of Port Lligat (1949,1950));

however, in vision of hell Our Lady of Fatima does hold her hands open in

a similar way as the Madonna of Port Lligat.

hree major influences (other than Gala, who

was ALWAYS Dali’s chief muse) inspired Dali

to create this Masterwork, which is more

than 14 feet tall. The first of these was the

appraching 300th anniversary of the death of

Velazques, who was very important to Dali.

The second was that there was considerable

academic debate at the time regarding the

true nationality of Columbus. Some were

asserting that Columbus had been Catalonian

rather than Italian, and Dali seized upon this

opportunity to further glorify his wondrous

Catalonia. FInally, the gallery which

commissioned Dali to paint this work, the

Huntington Hartford Gallery, was situated on

Columbus Circle in New York City. The combination of these 3 things was

enough to inspire Dali to wondrous heights of creativity.

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