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The first days of spring (1929)
Les premiers jours du printemps
Analysis: The year of 1929 was a particularly tumultuous one for Salvador Dalí. When Dalí painted this work in the early Spring of 1929, he was experiencing great amounts of stress, produced by the rapidly deteriorating relationship he had with his father. The senior Dalí was very disappointed in his son’s choice of profession, his increasingly strange behavior, and his general disregard for all things deemed traditional.
Both the reader and Dalí are definitely through the looking glass now. Gone are the calm summer days on the slopes and hills of Cadaqués, being softly reproduced in the soft tones of the light inspired Impressionists. Here we see Dalí as he had only been hinting at in the several years preceeding this work. Here, Dalí has given himself over completely to his paranoid critical inspirations, and paints in stunning detail, the intrepid thoughts of his innermost self.
In the very center of the painting is a small, collaged picture of Salvador as a young child of about 4 years. Around it are a variety of objects that are best described as things from a ‘hand painted dream photograph’ as Dalí liked to say. Sigmund Freud, and his theories of psychoanalysis play a paramount role in understanding this work and Dalí’s experiences at this point. This painting actually starts what is referred to as Dalí’s Surrealist Period, even though he did not officially join the Paris group of Surrealists until later in the year.
The scene itself is set upon a vast, stretching stepped plane which immediately suggests Freudian sexuality. The small collage of Dalí in the center of the work represents the Freudian importance of childhood, and Dalí’s subscription to this belief.
To the left, seated with his back to the scene, is a figure that can be interpreted as Dalí’s own father. Because of their increasing estrangement, Dalí feels that his father is abandoning him in his own search for identity. However, farther off in the distance and only barely visible standing on the topmost step is another figure. It is the image of a man , holding the hand of a small boy standing next to him. This figure represents Dalí’s desire to heal the rift between himself and his father, while at the same time knowing that this may never happen.
To the far right of the picture, an old man is being offered something from a young girl, while over in the near middle of the painting, a doctor is ‘analyzing’ his patient. Both of these figures represent taboo relationships, and have explicit sexual themes.
In the foreground, starting from the left, there is a disturbingly hermaphroditic couple seated in front of another painting, a weird apparatus adorned with a red fish and blue veins, and finally a series of intricate boxes adorned with a detailed collage of objects. All in all, they represent other deviant sexual themes, as well as the through the looking glass quality of Dalí’s hand painted dream photographs that would become his trademark and propel him to great heights in the name of Surrealism.