The Artist Who Painted Melting Clocks - Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali is infamous as the artist who painted melting clocks. He was always a surrealist by his own admission, and his paintings that employed extensive symbolism delved into the depths of the subconscious. In his art erotic themes were significant, this together with his depiction of religious and other serious themes proved his versatility in many artistic styles and themes.
Salvador Dali is considered one of the greatest abstract and surrealist painters of all time and probably one of the most eccentric. Salvador Dali was born in the town of Figueres in the Spanish Catalan region on May 11, 1904. He became an accomplished artist, film maker, sculptor and photographer. Having studied art at Madrid and Barcelona, the foundation of Dali's mature artistic style was laid by two major influences - that of Sigmund Freud and the Paris Surrealists.
The major thrust of much of Dali's paintings has been the erotic. This can be attributed to the writings on the significance of the erotic in subconscious imagery by Sigmund Freud. Dali's artistic explorations largely deal with the working of the subconscious. Though his first major surrealist work was "Honey is Sweeter than Blood" (1927), most of the paintings that sealed his surrealist reputation were created from 1929 to 1937, after he had mastered the technique of inducing in himself hallucinatory states in order to excavate images from his subconscious mind.
Through his paintings Dali brought to life the world of dreams, depicting irrationally metamorphosed or arranged images of common objects. "The Persistence of Memory" (1931) depicts pocket timepieces that melt in a calm and haunting landscape. These "soft watches" are a reflection on Einstein's theory that suggests time is relative. The titles of his works of this period themselves evoke in our minds the sense of the bizarre and eccentric - "The Spectre of Sex Appeal", "The Birth of Liquid Desires", "Anthropomorphic Bread", "Fried Eggs on the Plate without the Plate", and "The Invisible Man," all completed in 1932.
Certain images and objects in Dali's works stand out, such as the elephant image. It first appeared in the "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second before Awakening" (1944), where the elephants depicted have brittle legs that almost don't exist, and with obelisks located on their backs, creating a sense of phantom reality.
Other animals that appear in Dali's works are ants that symbolise death as well as sexual desire, while the snail is said to be a representation of the human head. "Waste" and "Fear" are symbolised by locusts. "The Great Masturbator" (1929) and "The Metamorphosis of Narcissus" (1937) showcase another important image in Dali's paintings, the egg.
Dali's final painting is the "The Swallow's Tail" (1983) completed 3 years after the artist encountered a nervous disorder that made it difficult for him to draw, because of a shivering right hand. In 1982 Dali was bestowed the title "Marquis of Pubol" by King Juan Carlos of Spain, who was an admirer of the artist.
At the age of 84, on January 23, 1989, Dali died of heart failure at Figueres, but not before he had handed a drawing, "Head of Europa" to King Juan Carlos who visited him on his deathbed.
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