0242-The wounded bird (1928)

Oil and sand on cardboard, 65,5 x 55 cm Mizne-Blumental collection, Monte-Carlo

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The wounded bird (1928)
L’oiseau blessé

Analysis: The title of “The Wounded Bird” refers to a Surrealist poem by André Breton called Clair de Terre. The Surrealist movement had begun as a literary one and poetry was still an important and influential medium for surrealist artists. Many works of art were inspired by poems and the artists wrote poems, as Dalí did in later years.
The part of Clair de Terre that this painting represents was a dream: Breton shot a bird that fell into the sea and transformed into a cow before dying. Dalí also interpreted this dream in his painting “The Spectral Cow“, which was painted in the same year as “The Wounded Bird“. References to Breton’s dream can also be seen in “Little Cinders“, where there are many ghostly birds with the same simplistic form as the bird in this painting. This is one of several paintings Dalí completed during 1928 which experimented with the use of mediums other than oil. He had always been experimental in his choice of mediums, once finishing a painting using stems from cherries. Here Dalí has used sand; this gives stronger, more striking appearance against the textured sand.

0238-Unsatisfied desires (1928)

Oil, shells and sand on cardboard, 62 x 76 cm Private collection

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Unsatisfied desires (1928)
Les désirs inassouvis

Analysis: This picture was painted in Cadaqués during the summer of 1928. Dalí sent it along with another work, “Female Nude“, to the Salon d’Automne which was held at Maragall’s Gallery in Barcelona. The directors, frightened in advance at the probable reactions of the public to the obviously sexual allusions contained in the paintings, preferred to withdraw them.
“Then,” Dalí relates, “in protest I gave a lecture at the Sala Pares which triggered a frightful scandal because I had insulted all the painters who were doing twisted trees. This was the first of three scandalous lectures that I was to give in Barcelona. The second took place a few years later at the Atheneo, where I thoroughly insulted the name of the founder of the society who organized the lecture-a man whose memory was respected throughout all Catalonia-by calling him the great pederast and the great hairy putrified man…. Afterwards, I wasn’t able to continue to say very much; everyone threw chairs and broke up everything. The police had to protect me so that I could leave and get as far as the car. The third one was a lecture given with René Crevel during the Surrealist era at a place where the anarchists met called the Popular Encyclopedia. They had put a loaf of bread on my head just like the one in “Bust of a retrospective woman“. I spoke about sex, about testicles, about everything, to such a point that an anarchist got up and said: ‘It’s intolerable that you should use such obscene language in front of our wives, because we are accompanied here by our wives!’ It was Gala’s turn to stand up, and she replied: ‘If he says this in front of his own wife, which I am, he can say it in front of your wives.’
“It is one of the first pictures of the period when I used the gravel from the beach of Llaner as collage; I used to go rather to Sortell near the Pichots’ house to fish for gobies or other things. I picked up cork floats, a little here and there, at random.” These pictures with the gravel and the cork floats were the beginning of a series which Dalí considered the most important before Surrealism: canvases which were practically white with only a few ideographic signs and feathers glued on them, such as “Fishermen in the Sun“.

0236-Surrealist composition (1928)

Oil on canvas, 62,5 x 75,5 cm Private collection

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Surrealist composition (1928)
Composition surréaliste

Analysis: Dalí gave this picture a new name in 1964, “Inaugural gooseflesh“. Here the diagonal construction is used again. The visible material in the picture would seem to place it with the works painted in 1927 such as “Blood Is Sweeter Than Honey” in that series which Lorca called “Apparatus Forest”. “Inaugural Gooseflesh” is painted in the same style but as an afterthought; it is the result of the works of this period and of the paintings done at the same time in 1928 such as “Bathers” with the gravel collage. The composition is already the product of a hypnagogic image similar to that which Dalí repeated often in his Surrealist works -we see an example of it in “Portrait of Paul Eluard” – little rodlike cells in suspension above an oblong object. Dalí has given an explanation of it in his book “Le Mythe tragique de L’Angelus de Millet“. “In 1929, for the first time, one of those very clear images appeared to me, most probably following many others, although I cannot find any antecedent for it in my memory. This happened in Cadaqués when I was in the act of pulling violently at the oars, and it consisted of a white shape illuminated by the sun, stretched out at full length, cylindrical in form with rounded extremities, showing several irregularities. This form is Iying down on the maroon-purplish-blue soil. All its periphery is bristling with little black rodlike cells appearing in suspension in all directions like flying sticks.” Dalí continues, “The numbering in the pictures probably corresponds to my unconscious interest in the metric system. In June 1927 I had written an article, ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” which appeared in L’Ami Des Arts, about which Lorca had said that it was the most poetic text he had ever read. In this article I explained how one could measure the suffering of Saint Sebastian just as with degrees on a thermometer, each arrow being a sort of gradation adding and measuring the amount of suffering. It was at the same time that Lorca wrote in his ‘Ode to Salvador Dalí,’ ‘A desire for forms and limits overwhelms us. The man who measures with the yellow yardstick comes.’ At that time I was preoccupied with all the systems of weights and measures, and numbers were appearing everywhere I was already preoccupied with the metric system, the numerical division of worldly things.”

0234-The Spectral cow (1928)

Oil on panel, 64,5 x 50 cm Musée National d'Art Moderne (Paris)

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The spectral cow (1928)
La vache spectrale

Analysis: “The Spectral Cow” was painted using oil on plywood. The painting dates from a period in Dalí’s work where his own inimitable style had still not been set and it owes much to other Surrealist artists’ work. At that time Dalí was not officially a Surrealist, (he did not actually join the Surrealist group until Gala’s intervention a few years later), but this painting together with “Unsatisfied Desires“, is an indication of the direction that he was now taking.
The aims of Surrealist painting was to portray dreams, the unconscious and the irrational in an effort to shake the viewers own belief in a fixed reality. Surrealist painters often depicted poetry in their work. Dalí has tried to do this with “The Spectral Cow“, which interprets a dream in André Breton’s Clair de Terre. The cow in the painting is only hinted at, with its delineation formed by several jagged lines of varying width, color and also of apparent texture. Dalí has “feathered” some lines, while others appear to be made of powder. To the right of the cow stands the ghostly form of a duck, its body formed from the air, like a stencil reversed.