CHRISTMAS BREAK IS FROM
SALVADOR DALI & TIME
Salvador Dali, is a globally renowned and a much celebrated artist, who lived and thrived in Spain from 1904-1989.
Many of his striking and psychedelic masterpieces are recognized for evoking a strong emotional and intellectual response. Much of Dali’s inspiration was due to his immersion in the Surrealism Movement. Salvador Dali’s vast artistic contributions remain a profound influence to this day.
Before we continue, let us examine the terminology surrounding surrealism; a word introduced amidst Dali’s prime, between 1935-1940.
sur - a prefix that means ìover, aboveî or ìin addition to.
real - defined as actually existing as an object or occurring in absolute fact; not imagined or supposed.
Therefore, surreal means above or in addition to existing. Another way to express that idea would be to say “more than reality.”
ism - a suffix placed at the end of a word that further defines the word as a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy; typically a political ideology or an artistic action.
Therefore, surrealism is a artistic practice, a philosophy, attached to political ideologies, and an artistic action, though some may not agree.
ist - an alternative suffix attached to the end of a word and indicative of a person who is practicing the element that the suffix is attached to.
A surrealist then is a person that practices surrealism.
Salvador Dali was an artist who practiced surrealism; this made him a surrealist.
That being understood, we should move on to understand the distinc qualities of surreal art, which is often rendered in high detail and accuracy, similar to realist art. The distinction between the two modes is: surrealism goes well beyond the constraints of physics and dimensional rules of reality.
At the turn of the 20th Century, the art and cultural world were taken by storm, as the Surrealism Movement manifested. As a result of this up sweep, a new respect and unique perspective toward the unconscious mind was cultivated. This part of the mind functions without concentration nor focus; automatically operating without concentration.
So... when is your mind in unconscious procession mode? All the time. To truly grasp the significance of surrealism, let’s take a further probe and exploration into the unconscious mind.
The Unconcious Mind
At this exact moment, your heart continues beating without nary a thought. You are steadily and rhythmically breathing without effort. Your eye lids are blinking to provide and maintain moisture all without one iota of conscious thought. A plethora of bodily functions actively contribute to keeping you alive all without a meaningful conscious thought. Imagine if we had to think about keeping our body alive; that would be near impossible and humanity would have already been extinct. Life greatly depends on the unconscious mind.
Have you ever been distracted by your unconscious mind? There must have been times when you were told to draw, do math homework, or read, but instead of doing so, your mind kept thinking of other things that distracted you from the task at hand. Often a busy unconscious mind will cause a diversion and curtail ones focus. Those thoughts appearing seemingly from nowhere are derived from the unconscious mind.
One way to get in touch with the unconscious mind is to sit and meditate while attempting to clear your mind. If a thought appears in your head, from where did that thought originate from? Thoughts arising from out of our control are from the unconscious mind. It bears asking whether or not we really have command over the processes of our thinking when the majority of our thoughts seem to be appearing without our wanting.
Whence do the images and ideas originate from, while dreaming? Your mind created the dream and random imagery, but at no time were you deciding what would occur, what images would arise, and what events would take place. When dreaming, your unconscious mind is active while your conscious mind is dormant. Dreams are the thoughts of your unconscious mind.
A vast source of creativity can be derived from this part of the psyche; prominent artists of the Surrealist Movement, such as Salvador Dali, realized exactly that.
The surrealists’ motive was to illustrate their dreams by nurturing a relationship with the unconscious mind and attempting to understand the teeming messages that the unconscious mind was communicating. As the famous surreal psychologist, Sigmund Freud staunchly believed, dreams and the unconscious contain intelligent messages which our conscious can decipher.
An average person retires to bed, sleeps and wakes with a memory of an odd dream.
Upon awakening, it is common for someone to ponder the meaning of any recalled dream.
A dream can be deciphered, analyzed and interpreted upon regaining consciousness. Salvador Dali’s paintings were often created without original meaning nor direction and were meant for analyzation after completion. The curious public often asked Dali what his paintings meant and they were told that they were dream images; sort of like a photograph of a dream.
He may have hoped for viewers to find their own personal significance to each of his works.
The Persistence of Memory
An example of this is one of his most noted works, The Persistence of Memory or casually known as ìthe melting clocks, completed in 1931. Here is a painting that every cultured human being ought to be aware of.
According to your own personal perception, how do you interpret this masterpiece? How does the imagery make you feel? Any feelings of dread or on the other end of the spectrum... euphoria? Perhaps you feel that time has warped or decelerated to a silent halt?
Just maybe, you feel slightly stymied by these unanswered questions?
Well, according to consensus, this iconography suggests a slow continuous moment upon a deserted barren-land. Have you ever watched and waited for a pot of water to boil, only to be frustrated by bated anticipation? This is what the critical masses have likened this painting to. You might hope to see the watches bend or loosen a little more, stretching further to the ground or just to see one of the hourglass shaped ants crawl about in order to break the slow monotony.
In my humble opinion, each clock represents time in different situations.
During the 1930s Albert Einstein was divulging his theory on relativity. According to Einstein, time is not consistent, but rather, time can be slowed, speed up, or stopped. How is this possible? Because time is not independent. It instead is dependent on space, mass, energy and speed.
Let’s begin looking at the painting and noting the bent clock on the edge of the cube-like structure, in the lower left hand corner. Look how physically contorted it is, against a three dimensional object. Time is literally being bent by this three dimensional object. This is known as gravitational time dilation. It has been proven that the closer you are to the earth’s core, the faster time passes. The opposite is true as well; If you are further from a massive planet, such as the earth, then time speeds up.
Now shift your gaze to the other timepiece resting in the shadows in the deep left corner of the canvas; just below the clock we were studying. Only the back side of the clock is made visible to the gazer. I believe that Dali chose this to represent times nonexistence in empty space by portraying a faceless clock in the shadows; which is paradoxical unto itself. Time, in theory, cannot exist in empty space without form nor light. I must admit that I am still unsure of the ants swarming on the backside of the timepiece. What are your opinions? Why are they shaped as hour glasses? Please tweet your thoughts to @oamstudios.
See that clock hung from the lone tree branch, surrounded by a pearly white mist in the horizon? That clock represents time and space traveling at the speed of light. Theoretically speaking, time in light speed, dilates and slows to the point of freezing. Space, on the other hand contracts; thinning like a wispy tree branch and bending around itself so that there would be no point of departure or point to arrive to. It is then that space becomes singular. You may also notice the flat plane just to the left; It may further illustrate that space flattens when traveling at the speed of light.
Finally, note the centrally located clock, flexed over a drape of flesh set beneath the expansive shadow. Can you perceive a sleeping facial profile, containing a tightly shut eye and protruded tongue? Conjecturally speaking, it’s easy to believe this represents Dali’s persona and very own unconsciousness. Its key centric placement, indicates the level of importance to Dali. This most likely represents time in regards to memory or the subjective perspective
Here’s another note worthy observation: there are two clocks placed within the shadows, the one upon cloaked-flesh and the faceless one in the bottom left-hand corner. The bottom left corner clock I have already suggested is time without light or mass. The center clock maybe suggests that the mind is aware of time even though time does not actually exist within the mind or its memories.
Now, draw your eyes to the upper-right portion of the fleshy mass that the center clock is melting on. Did you locate a rather eerie con-vexed impression that is not only under the fleshy drape but is buried under the ground? I believe the buried object is Daliís older infant brother, who preceded him in death by nine months.
This conclusion has been reached for several reasons. One of which is commonly known- this landscape is painted in the casted shadows of Mount Panelo, an area within the Catalonian region of Spain. A view of Cape Creus can be seen in the near horizon, outlined by its uniquely jagged coast line. The Dali family had a summer home in this very area Salvador’s dead brother most likely spent his very short lived 21 months there. He may have even been buried there, but I have not been able to find any record of his brother’s burial site.
Salvador was born exactly 9 months and ten days after his older siblingís death. One might think that the parents were replacing the dead son for another. Upon his birth, Salvador was given his deceased brother’s clothing to wear and his toys to play with. Salvador Dali was also named after his brother. They even held a striking physical similarity to one another. Salvador Dali’s brother was a memory that persistently penetrated his art work.
My brother and I resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections. Like myself, he had the unmistakable facial morphology of a genius. My brother was probably a first version of myself, but conceived too much in the absolute
- Salvador Dali
Moreover, Dali often recounted a story of when he was 5 years old. His parents took him to the grave of his older brother and told him he was his brother’s reincarnation.
Since this epic painting debuted in 1931, many people have related to its stark imagery and deeply generated sentiments. The masses agree that Dali’s imagery is a more successful description of a slow persistent memory; far exceeding words, music or narratives.
Time can be quite enigmatic and also relative from one point of view to another, but it is actually very scientific. The problem is that the mathematics and concepts of light, time, and space are often to difficult for lay people to understand.
A legendary artist, such as Salvador Dali has the genius ability to explain these scientific truths through a painting that people can resonate with. Once someone has seen the Persistence of Memory it is often too difficult to ever forget and lingers in our minds timelessly and persistently.
A recent Simpsons episode, S32E3 is perfect for art lovers of all ages
Feeling a bit nostalgic, the other day, I decided to watch an episode of The Simpsons from childhood.
The episode was fantastic and reminded me that The Simpsons has always had a great appreciation for fine art.
This of course led me to binging more recent episodes while sculpting and mold making late into the evening.
While doing so I came across Season 32's Episode 3 entitled "Now Museum, Now You Don't." And was completely delighted by it.
I highly recommend this episode to viewers of all ages, though I did notice that the humor is particular wonderful for adults with an educated background in art history.
Some key jokes that I realized some may not get immediately without some knowledge of art history:
1. When Police Chief Wiggum asks Lisanardo for the composite sketch of a criminal, Lisa hands him a cross hatched drawing of an old man that is actually a drawing that Leonardo Da Vinci had created called Profile of an Old Man. It is located at the Uffizi Gallery in Firenze.
2. The painting in the classroom scene, behind the art teacher Verrocchio, is displayed at the Uffizi Gallery. You may notice that the bottom left corner of that painting is incomplete. That area would eventually be painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, Verrocchio’s student. One of the angels to be painted in that corner is actually a portrait of young Leonardo.
Verrocchio would eventually quit painting because of Leonardo’s ability to render angels, his use of color, and his overall outstanding skills, according to Giorgio Vasari.
The surname Verrocchio means “true eye” in Italian
3. Yes, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec did hollow out his cane in order to fill it with liquor.
He needed his cane because he suffered from under developed legs so he required his cane to assist in walking. The alcohol, he may have argued, was necessary for his physical pain.
Toulouse-Lautrec was a giant figure in a dwarf’s body and revolutionized fine art as well as the archetype of the artist. I have always loved and celebrated his works and if you are not familiar with his body of work, I suggest you take some time to be aware of it.
4. Maggie Simpson, is depicted as the stealthily hidden cherub in the top left corner of Raphael’s painting, the Triumph of Galatea.
Galatea (literally meaning “She who is milk-white”) was a sea-nymph from ancient Greek mythology. She fell in love with a mortal named Acis. At that same time, she was also pursued by a great cyclops named Polyphemus that was native to the island of Sicily.
Polyphemus becames infuriated by their love affair so much so that he murders ACIS by smashing him down with a boulder. The blood of Acis flowed out and formed the river named after him in Sicily.
Raphael designed the composition after a stanza by the poet Angelo Poliziano:
“Two shapely dolphins pull a chariot: on it sits Galatea and wields the reins; as they swim, they breathe in unison; a mere wanton flock circles one spews forth salt waves, others swim in circles, one seems to cavort and play in love; with her faithful sisters, the fair nymph charmingly laughs at such a crude singer.”
5. In May 1933, Rockefeller did indeed have Diego Rivera’s commissioned mural ordered to be plastered-over, destroying it before it was completed. It was eventually removed completely three years later.
Before the work was plastered over, Diego managed to take black-and-white photographs of the original that he created. Using his reference photos, Diego repainted the composition in Mexico using a different title for the work: Man, Controller of the Universe.
March 21st- April 19th
Your independent point of view will lead you to creating art that others will want to copy. Remember that copying is a form of flattery, so don’t respond with jealousy or upset.
July 23rd - August 22nd
Working on your art may be difficult this month. Take it as a challenge and conquer this problem so that you and your artistic skills will be strengthened.
November 22nd - December 21st
Try different art materials this month. The change will help you feel free from your usual routine and also give you small adventures.
April 20th - May 20th
You will find it very easy to complete your art projects and place special care on the details. The details are often what makes an art project successful.
August 23rd - September
You will really improve your art this month by helping others with their creativity. You have lots of creativity that is nourished when applied to helping others.
December 22nd - January
You will have many people relying on you to complet your projects in a timely manner. Make sure you set goals this month so you do not let anyone down that you care about.
May 21st - June 20th
Listen to your own artistic needs and create your own rules. Art evolves from challenging the rules. Only someone like you is able to overcome the status quo and create anew.
September 23rd - October 22nd
If you can fall in love with art this month, then you will find a deep well of creativity within you and you will find a peaceful place for your mind to rest. From peace comes happiness.
January 20th - February 18th
You will be able to invent a new personal style of art this month by mixing different techniques and materials. By thinking of a new way to do something you will make discoveries.
June 21st - July 22nd
It may be difficult deciding on what to draw or what color to use in your artwork this month, but you will see that you will decide correctly when you just let go and enjoy.
October 23rd - November 21st
Don’t rely on others to complete your artwork. You will need inner strength this month and self motivation in order to make the best art work that you ever have before.
February 19th - March 20th
Use your emotions to create your art this month. If you are sad, then feel your sadness and let it transfer to your art. If you are angry then draw angry. If happy, then draw happy!
Please send your results to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Salvador Dali's brother's first name
5. form of shading using small dots
8. Mixing blue and yellow
10. A parody of Disneyland located in a disused swimming pool complex in Britain
11. The second word in the actual title of the "melting clocks painting"
12 Last name of the scientist that created the theory of relativity
14. Type of pen with a tiny metal sphere on the tip
15. An art movement concerned with dreams and the unconscious mind, often painted realistically
2. The belief that the soul, upon death of the body, comes back to the earth in another body or form
3. Last name of a surreal artist from Spain
4. First name of the neurologist that is considered the father of psychoanalysis
6. A line that is thick on one end and becomes smaller on the other end
7. British artist that created & organized Dismaland
9. Not conscious
13. Suffix meaning a belief system