0329-Eggs on the plate without the plate (1932)

Oil on canvas, 42 x 60 cm The Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg (Florida)

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Eggs on the plate without the plate (1932)
Oeufs sur le plat sans le plat

Analysis: Dalí tells us that this work was inspired by an intra-uterine memory. He says that one day, after vigorously rubbing his eyes, he became fascinated with the brilliant yellow, orange, and ochre colors he saw. As a result, he says, he had a flashback to his mother’s womb, and created this paranoiac-critical explanation of the experience.
Suspended on a string, in the center of the work is a single egg yolk, which Dalí said represented himself in the womb. Below that, the two eggs on the plate (curious, that plate, look at the title again) were painted with a shimmering yolk. These represented the piercing gaze of Gala Dalí, whom Dalí had met in 1929. At the time, she had been the darling of the Surrealist movement, not to mention the wife of Paul Eluard, the French poet. It was said that her gaze could pierce through walls, and Dalí is paying her homage here.
A large, cubist building dominates the scene, while other objects are attached to the wall facing the eggs. First is a small, dripping watch, a continuation of the theme of the melting watches done in The Persistence of Memory. Above that is a phallic ear of corn, representing male sexuality. Just to the left of the ear of corn is a window in the building, and standing in it, looking out through another window, are the father and son figures that were originally painted in The First Days of Spring, some three years ago. Off in the distance are the rocks of Dalí’s homeland.

0328-The dream approaches (1932)

Oil on canvas, 54,3 x 65,1 cm Perls Galleries, New-York

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The dream approaches (1932)
Le rêve approche

Analysis: “The Dream Approaches” has the haunting atmosphere of a dream, aided by a luminescent pre-dawn sky. In the foreground of the painting is a potentially coffin-shaped form, over which white material is draped. On the right side of this block is a large cocoon shape, its opening suggesting the female genitalia. Standing on the sandy beach is a naked man, classical in form as well as stance, with one hand raised and his hips tilted. The brushwork on his body creates the illusion that dark flames are swirling along his back.
On the right, next to two trees that are still half in darkness, is a tall tower with one solitary window at the top. The tower seems like a ruin as the plaster is falling away and there are cracks along it. Amongst other paintings, this tower can also be seen in “The Horseman of Death” (1934). Towers appear in Dalí’s work as a symbol of desire and death. In his autobiographical writings, Dalí explained this as owing to his childhood memories of a mill tower, where he had felt both sexual and violent urges toward a girl.

0327-Diurnal fantasies (1932)

Oil on canvas, 100 x 81 cm The Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg (Florida)

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Diurnal fantasies (1932)
Fantaisies diurnes

Analysis: Enigmatic is the single best word to use to describe this painting. Although Dalí had been painting some strange objects into his works for years now, the object in the center is most interesting. In form it is similar to the wall shown in “Memory of the Child Woman” which is also a sexual Surrealist tribute to Dalí’s lover and muse, Gala.
In this work however, the scene is simpler, consisting mainly of an elongated, somewhat rounded looking wall with several smooth alcoves in it. The largest of these houses a key, a symbol for the sex act, and a red jewel adorns the center. In several of the smaller alcoves, Dalí had written the words “Ma mère” or “My mother” over and over again, certainly a tribute to his dead mother, who had passed away in 1921.
Some differences between this work and its companion piece are the scenery, barely visible at the edges, and the addition of what might be the ruin of a Roman or Corinthian column. Dalí often played near the ruin of Ampurius, on the plane of Ampurdan near his home. References to classical Greco-Roman themes, architecture or gods are often associated with this connection that Dalí felt with his ancient ancestors in Europe.
Additionally, Dalí has rendered this work in a soothing blue tone, which despite the ram’s skull in the foreground, creates a sense of calm. It is thought that Dalí used the blue tone in both this work and others to honor one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time, Velazquez.

0313-They were there (1931)

Oil on canvas, dimensions unknown Private collection

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They were there (1931)
Ils étaient là

Analysis: Dalí had many different ways of signing a painting; sometimes using an emblem or a crown. “They Were There” is signed “Gala Dalí”; he had begun signing his work with both his and Gala’s names in 1931. Dalí said that this was because it was mostly with Gala’s blood that he painted. The signature on this painting was made with blood-red paint to emphasize this point.
They Were There” is a portrait, though the subject is unknown. The man stands in the foreground staring straight out at the viewer, which was unusual for Dalí’s portraits. He appears relaxed with one hand in the pocket of his casual suit, a cigarette in the other hand. The background of the painting is the usual desert, bounded by green hills. The man on the rearing horse is an image also seen in “Mrs Reese“. “They Were There” does not show Dalí’s usual eye for the miniature details, the trees in the background are basic and little effort seems to have been taken over the clouds either. In both “Mrs Reese” and “They Were There” the brushwork on the people is very smooth; there are no wrinkles or lines, giving an almost plastic quality.

0311-The spectre and the ghost (1931)

Oil on canvas, 73 x 100 cm Five Stars Investment Ltd, New-York

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The spectre and the ghost (1931)
Le spectre et le fantôme

Analysis: “Le Spectre et le Fantôme” is one of a series of paintings that shared a theme of spectral and phantom appearances. In a letter to the French Surrealist poet Paul Eluard, Dalí defined the clouds and the rainbow as being the spectre and the brick shape as being the phantom. The clouds take on forms as the viewer stares at them, reflecting the basis of Dalí’s paranoia-critical method.
The work has the same female figure as in “Mediumistic-Paranoiac Image“. The woman is in the foreground, sitting in a puddle on a beach. She is a combination of Dalí’s nurse, his friend Lydia and another of Dalí’s obsessions from that time which was to cause him trouble in the future: Hitler. His obsession with Hitler was partly caused by what he called the “soft flesh” of his back, which was tightly held in by his uniform. He dreamt of him as a wet nurse sitting knitting in a puddle. The woman in the painting has a small cut taken out of her back that emphasizes this obsession with “Hitlerian” flesh.

0309-Shades of night descending (1931)

Oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm The Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg (Florida)

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Shades of night descending (1931)
Ombres de la nuit descendante

Analysis: The obsessive character of this work is made evident by one of the less important elements and the least noticed by the viewer: the measureless shadow which is spread out in the bottom part of the canvas. Its obsessional power is obtained by having in the center a rock whose shadow is much less dense that that of the one in the foreground. In appearance this reef seems to be a rock like the others; however, it is already constructed in such a way that its shadow bears a resemblance, due to its design, to the one in the foreground. Their source is moreover quite different, and it is there that the painter has successfully applied his famous paranoiac-critical method.
The shadow in the foreground is that of a concert grand piano, an instrument which holds a predominant place in many of Dalí’s Surrealist compositions, such as “Diurnal Illusion: the Shadow of a Grand Piano Approaching“, 1931; “Average Bureaucrat“; “Six apparitions of Lenin on a Grand Piano“, 1931; or “Myself at the Age of Ten When I Was a Grasshopper Child“, 1933. This piano is “the one that belonged to the Pichots with its shadows,” Dalí relates; “I was impressed by these shadows in the setting sun, near the tall cypress in the interior court of the house, and another time when they had brought the instrument onto the rocks beside the water.” The spectral victory standing in the lower-right corner of the picture is concealing heteroclite objects, half-hidden under the drapery in whose tortured folds the figure is wrapped. Two of these things, a glass and a shoe, are used with the same impact to stretch out the skin on the back of the figure in Diurnal Illusion. Speaking of his fetishism, Dalí has said, “It was a question of all the fetishes and slippers of my childhood fossilized underneath the membranes of my anguish, all mimetized at Cap Creus.” Shoe fetishes appear often in scenes of “Bureaucratic cannibalism” where one can see the most varied figures: a girl, Nietzche, or Maxim Gorky devouring a high-heeled shoe.

0306-The persistence of memory (1931)

Oil on canvas, 33 x 24 cm The Museum of Modern Art, New-York

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The persistence of memory (1931)
La persistance de la mémoire

Analysis: Many of Dalí’s paintings were influenced and inspired by the landscapes of his youth. Several in particular were painted on the slopes of Mount Pani, which was covered by beautiful umbrella pines at the time. Many of the strange and foreboding shadows in the foreground of many Dalí paintings is a direct reference to and result of Dalí’s love of this mountain near his home. Even long after he had grown up, Dalí continued to paint details of the landscape of Catalonia into his works, as evidenced by such works as “The Persistence of Memory“, completed in 1931.
Note the craggy rocks of Cape Creus in the background to the right. One of Dalí’s most memorable Surrealist works, indeed the one with which he is most often associated is “The Persistence of Memory“. It shows a typical Dalínian landscape, with the rocks of his beloved Cape Creus jutting up in the background. In the foreground, a sort of amorphous self portrait of Dalí seems to melt. Three Separate Melting Watch images even out the foreground of the work. The melting watches are one symbol that is commonly associated with Salvador Dalí’s Surrealism. They are literally meant to show the irrelevance of time.
When Dalí was alone with Gala and his paintings in Cape Creus, he felt that time had little, perhaps no significance for him. His days were spent eating, painting, making love, and anything else he wanted to do. The warm, summery days seemed to fly by without any real indication of having passed.
One hot August afternoon, in 1931, as Dalí sat at his work bench nibbling at his lunch, he came upon one of his most stunning paranoiac-critical hallucinations. Upon taking a pencil, and sliding it under a bit of Camembert cheese, which had become softer and runnier than usual in the summer heat, Dalí was inspired with the idea for the melting watches. They appear often throughout Dalí’s works, and are the subject of much interest. In short, this particular work, is an important referral back to Dalí’s Catalan Heritage, that was so very important to him.

0301-Mrs Reese (1931)

Oil on canvas, dimensions unknown Private collection

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Mrs Reese (1931)

Analysis: Dalí painted portraits through most of his career, starting with his family in his earlier years and quickly moving on to paying subjects when he realized the demand that there was for his work. Other members of the Surrealist group criticized Dalí for choosing to paint portraits of paying customers. They saw such work as lowering creative standards, believing that artists should only paint what inspired them, despite a long tradition of portrait painting.
As was often the case for Dalí, this portrait is set against a Catalan landscape of a desert with hills in the far distance. There are other images that are typical of Dalí, such as the domed building without a center and the man sitting on a rearing horse.
Mme. Reese stands against this background, lit up by rays of light from the dense cloud above her. She is dressed up in a ball gown and wearing pearls, suggesting that she is one of the wealthy elite that Dalí often painted. The portrait is conventional, unlike the slightly Surrealist “Portrait of Mrs. Jack Warner“.

0300-Gradiva finds the anthropomorphic ruins (1931)

Oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm Fondazione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Lugano

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Gradiva finds the anthropomorphic ruins (1931)
Gradiva retrouve les ruines anthropomorphiques

Analysis: “Gradiva Finds the Anthropomorphic ruins” was based on a German story, analyzed by Freud, of an archeologist who falls in love with Gradiva, a girl he sees in a Greek stone relief. He later finds his true love, who is the reincarnation of Gradiva. The Surrealists took this myth for their own. For them, Gradiva meant “she who advances”, a woman who would lead to self-discovery. To Dalí, Gradiva was Gala, the realization of his fictional past loves and his muse.
In “Gradiva Finds the Anthropomorphic Ruins“, Dalí plays with the story of Gradiva. Set against a flat, dark landscape, she is in the foreground with her arms wrapped around a human shape that is made from stone, (Anthropomorphis). Parts of the figure are cracked and there are holes where the face, heart and genitals should be, implying that this creature is without any of the parts that constitute a human. The form of Anthropomorphis is similar to that of a figure, which can be interpreted as Dalí, in the painting “Solitude” (1931). The figure has a Dalínian inkwell on his shoulder and as Gradiva appears as Gala, the implication here is that Dalí is Anthropomorphis.

0295-The dream (1931)

Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm Private collection

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The dream (1931)
Le rêve

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.