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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.