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Figure on the rocks (1926)
Personnage sur les rochers
Analysis: This kind of composition first appeared in the middle of 1926, when Dalí was painting landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and Cubist compositions at the same time. There are not more than six canvases done in this manner, in which one sees this type of ample female creature stretched out on the sand or on the rocks. These figures visibly show the influence of the works of Picasso from the period called neo-realistic, between 1920 and 1922. Dalí groups them instead in what he calls “the time of neoCubist academies.” Lorca, Dalí’s sister, and other friends were in the habit of giving these paintings a Catalonian explanation coming from the peculiar patois of Cadaqués – trossos de Coniam, which means, when referring to a person, that he is completely lacking in intelligence and is “totally physical, a sort of vegetable!” Dalí never used it literally in the pejorative sense; on the whole he was interested in the vegetative and soft aspect of the figure, in spite of the apparent Cubist treatment, and its opposition to the hardness of the rocks.
“Figure on the rocks” was painted in Cadaqués in the studio where Dalí had hung reproductions of Picasso on the wall, one of which he had torn from the magazine “L ‘Art d ‘aujourd’hui“. This page depicted two women running on the beach; it is probably from a backdrop curtain painted shortly after the end of World War I for one of Diaghilev’s Russian ballets. Several other pictures of this series were done in Figueras. At the time, Dalí was intrigued with geometry, with regulative diagrams and everything that related to the golden section. In “Figure on the rocks” the diagonal construction, not so visually evident as in the preceding colorplate, “Figure on the Rocks – Penya Segats“, or even in “Venus and Cupids“, is, however, very definite: the complete structure of the subject radiates from the exact point of the intersection of the diagonals, found slightly below the navel, which is the optical center of the picture.