|Photograph of Salvador Dali|
(Dali Atomicus, by Philippe Halsman, 1948)
[For reference; not the work of Dali]
His surrealism was sparked largely by direct interaction with and study of contemporaries like Magritte, Miro, and Picasso, while his metaphysical tendencies were with him from a young age. Because of the chronological coincidence much of his working years and World War II, Dali surrounded himself with much of the science and physics of the time, including that of Albert Einstein.
|Soft Watch, Exploding into 888 Pieces after Twenty Years of Complete Motionlessness (1954)|
Einstein's work on topics like nuclear physics, relativity, and time dilation are fantastically represented in the recurring exploding and melting clocks in the works of Dali. The above work (with a title so perfectly indicative of the eccentric personality of its creator) is a personal favorite. Well representative of a great many of Dali's works, it combines the fluid with the concrete in the way the rigid back and metal arms of the clock are like putty draped over the edge of a table, and the border of the watch is like a tangle of vines where it is connected to the face but shattered into countless rigid, wire-like fragments around the 11-2 o'clock range. As indicated by the shadows, the numbers are not resting on the face. They are inches above it, hovering, but with the indication of rapid movement frozen in time. This continues throughout the image: it is clearly in mid-explosion, soon to be no more, but because it was captured at such a delicate moment, it appears to be in a beautiful static decomposition, frozen in the distorted time that its liquid state represents. While it is a smaller detail, and not nearly the most impressive, I appreciate the interesting hatching just past the 6 on the face of the clock, utilizing the intersection of the soft curves that followed the border of the watch to display the intricate curvature of the surface. The combination of the mechanistic, the fluid, and the surreal makes this piece, along with Dali as a whole, a strong personal favorite, and source of inspiration.
Dali also had some (albeit minimal) interaction with the church. While he was not particularly vocal about his association, he was both baptized and buried (1989) in the church of Sant Pere in Figueres, Spain, and often liked to represent christian imagery and occasionally integrate it with his other, more concrete topics like contemporary physics.
|Allegorical Saint and Angels in Adoration of the Holy Spirit (1958)|
Disintegration plays a large theme in the works of Dali. Much like with the watch from before, it follows from Dali's fascination with nuclear physics, and the idea of material being ripped apart atom by atom, literally disintegrating. In some of his more abnormal pieces, Dali applies this to the human form, showing skin, muscle, and bone not only morphing into other materials, as he often does, but being torn apart piece by piece, not in gore, but in material transformation (like what happens uniquely in a nuclear reaction, when the nucleus of an unstable atom experiences fission and becomes entirely different materials).
|Kneeling Figure in Decomposition (1950-1951)|
The above may be his most notable sketch of this kind, in which the pictured man is explosively decomposing into the wild geometry riddling the page. Dali enjoyed the integration of multidimensional geometry in his works, and uses it here as both the result of the decomposition as well as an extension of the man's limbs.
He did not always depict the human form in irregularity, though. Dali created a great many works on eroticism and the human form in normalized culture.
|The Judgment of Paris (1950)|
Descharnes, Robert, Salvador Dalí, and Gilles Néret. Salvador Dalí 1904-1989. Köln: Taschen, 1998. Print.
Morse, Albert Reynolds, and Salvador Dalí. The Draftsmanship of Dali: A Portfolio of Watercolors and Drawings. Cleveland: Salvador Dali Museum, 1970. Print.