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The dream (1931)
Analysis: By the 1930’s, Surrealist painting had moved toward the arena of dreams for inspiration and relied less on the ideas of automatism that had marked the beginning of the movement. “The Dream” was painted in 1931 but the main image, the woman’s head, had first appeared the year before in “The Font“, where, although in the background, it was a striking and dominant feature. Dalí found the inspiration for the woman from a scene on a box and a monument in Barcelona.
In the foreground of this dark painting is the bust of a woman, painted in dull, metallic grays, her hair floating above her as if frozen in movement. The colors used and her apparent immobility bring to mind the classical myth of Medusa. The woman has no mouth and her eyes also appear sealed shut, like those of the giant head in “Sleep“. The absence of a mouth, together with the seeming immobility of the woman implies a loss of control, of paralysis. Ants crawl across the face in the place where a mouth should be. As a child, Dalí had found a pet bat crawling with ants and so, for him, they became symbols of death and decay.