Salvador Dali And The Surrealist Movement

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The Surrealist movement was founded in Paris by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination (Meggs & Purvis 2012:270). The poet André Breton, the founder of surrealism, imbued the word with all the magic of dreams, the spirit of rebellion, and the mysteries of the subconscious in his 1924 Manifesto du Surréalisme: “Surrealism, noun, masc. pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, all aesthetic or moral preoccupations” (Meggs & Purvis 2012:270). In this, he proposed that artists should seek access to their unconscious mind…show more content…
Though primarily remembered for his painterly output, in the course of his long career he successfully turned to sculpture, printmaking, fashion, advertising, writing, and filmmaking (The Art Story: online). Known for his weird and outlandish subject matter, Dali's most famous work of art is probably The Persistence of Memory (1931) and widely regarded as a Surrealist masterpiece. In his early use of organic morphology, his work bears the stamp of fellow Spaniards Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. His paintings also evince a fascination for Classical and Renaissance art, visible through his hyper-realistic style and religious symbolism. Dali is most often associated with the Surrealist movement. Freudian theory underpins Dali's attempts at forging a formal and visual language capable of rendering his dreams and hallucinations (Art and Paintings 2013:online). Obsessive themes of eroticism, death, and decay permeate Dali's work, reflecting his familiarity with synthesis of the psychoanalytical theories of his time (The Art Story: online). Dali subscribed to Surrealist André Breton's theory of automatism, but ultimately opted for a method of tapping the unconscious that he termed "critical paranoia," a state in which one could cultivate delusion while maintaining one's sanity. Paradoxically defined by Dali himself as a form of "irrational knowledge," the paranoiac-critical method was applied by…show more content…
We see a sandy beach in the foreground and middle ground that appears dark, like it's in shadow. The beach stretches toward the background, where it eventually reaches a body of still water. In the left foreground, there is a large rectangular form, like a solid box, serving as a table. In the middle ground, directly in front of us, there is a strange organic form. Four pocket watches are placed in this strange scene, three of them appearing to melt into soft, malleable shapes. The important distinction between hard and soft objects, associated by Dali with order and putrefaction respectively, informs his work method in subverting inherent textual properties: the softening of hard objects and corresponding hardening of soft objects (MoMALearning 2014:online). It is likely that Dali was using the clocks to symbolize mortality (specifically his own) rather than literal time, as the melting flesh in the painting's center is loosely based on Dali's profile. Time is the theme, from the melting watches to the decay implied by the swarming ants. Mastering what he called “the usual paralyzing tricks of eye-fooling,” Dalí painted this work with “the most imperialist fury of precision,” but only, he said, “to systematize confusion and thus to help discredit completely the world of reality” (MoMALearning 2014:online). There is, however, a nod to the real: the

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