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Salvador Dali, Dadaism and Surrealism

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Arts
Wordcount: 1157 words Published: 4th May 2018

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“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings” The human mind is a very controlling device and organ. However it is not perfect in the way it processes things. Illusions for instance are visual stimuli that swindle the brain because the brain cannot process all visual imagery accurately. Why do we see puddles form up on the road whilst driving on a hot day? Why do certain parts of a drawing look bigger while in actually fact they are smaller? There have been numerous artists that have used illusions in their works, Scott Kim, M.C Escher, but what really brought fame to the surrealists in the 1990s? The Spanish painter Salvador Dali.

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A small amount has had such an impact on society as the eccentric painter whose paintings obsessed audiences for many years. Dali was immensely popular in the art community for his originality in work, and several of his paintings now stand as icons for his era. Dali was admired by the public because he embraced innovative ideas of the time, many of which were integrated into his works as well as his life. He continued to implement new ideas as times changed, which allowed him to keep his popularity within the public and art enthusiasts, possibly making him one of the most distinguished artists of the 1990s.

Salvador Dali (Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech) born in May 1904, in a minute town of figueres, in a region known as Catalonia. His parents gave him a lot of support as a young child, his first studio built for him at a very young age. Dali knowing that his parents recognised his potential from very early on gave him full support, until he reached the San Fernando Academy of fine arts in Madrid. All of Dali’s life he was distressed by many issues and complications, such as the death of his wife gala and the war, resulting in him being put in a state of paranoia. Nevertheless, he related to these problems, and his paintings gave him an opening in such ways that allowed him to express his feelings to a great extent, this also gave the public a viewing insight into his work, by examining his paintings we could also relate to them and see for ourselves how his paranoia overwhelmed him.


In relation to this Dali’s paranoia, a psychological method known as “paranoiac-critical” was created. The Paranoiac-Critical Method was developed by Dali as a way for him to dig out his internal emotions. It was an approach for artists to work throughout their obsessions by ultimately selecting and organizing meticulous objects on the canvas. Dali explained his paranoiac critical as a “Spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on critical and systematic objectivities of delirious associations and interpretations”.

When combining a method into a piece of work, usually a functional process of the brain is used to visualise imagery in the work, to combine these into the finished creation. Dali often used double imagery and multiple imagery, which then resulted into unclear images allowing them to be interpreted in different ways. Two good examples of Dali’s paranoiac- critical method and double imagery is the “The invisible Man” and “Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire”, for both of these paintings he has cleary used double imagery to trick the eye into thinking there is only one solid image but infact multiple images are present.

Disappearing Bust of Voltaire the Invisible Man

I see the paranoiac- critical method as being effortless, in my opinion Dali is fooling himself into going insane, while remembering the cause for madness is actually to create a work of art. Dali chose the difficult way by truly going crazy, rather than motivating madness through chemical means. As one of his quotes say, “I don’t take drugs. I am drugs,”

Andre’ Breton poems of Andre’

Surrealism was an artistic and literary faction that began in 1922 led by the French poet/ critic Andre Breton. Breton was the originator and primary theoretician of Surrealism, and artist association Committed to examining the unfounded, paranormal and intuitive aspects of the human mind. Surrealism sought to reinstate conventional moral and ethical concepts with beliefs of anger, hatred, etc, expressing emotions exaggeratedly that Breton described as “exalting the values of poetry, love, and liberty.” The surrealists attempted to bypass conscious determination and allow their unconscious take over their works. To explore the subconscious mind, to go beyond the typical thinking person.

Dadaism and Surrealism

Dada was a movement approximately around the same time as the first world. Dadaism was like a dispute against war, but not war but art. It was an anti- art. Dadaism felt as though the public no longer deserved the privilege of beautiful art that they had become so adapted to because of how the war came upon them, the feeling that people lost their well being and value. So Dadaism intentions were to make art unsightly, ugly. Surrealism emerged from what was still left of Dada (a European society characterized through its so called absurdity and lack of traditional standards, sometimes referred to as (nihilistic) a life without objectives or values. During the early years of the mid 1920’s and not like Dada, Surrealism alleged a capable and more positive outlook of art and from the outcome of this it went on to win several converts. Surrealism got its early era as a literary, not artistic, movement in French publications. One thing that Surrealism and Dadaism had in common was their faith in the understanding of the unconscious mind and also its manifestations, together they understood that throughout the unconscious mind an overabundance of artistic imagery would be unveiled. Together both called automatism.

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A good example of Dadaism is Marcel Duchamp’s three dimensional piece ‘The Fountain’ it’s not what you would describe as a great piece of art. ‘The Fountain’ is what Duchamp would call a readymade. This piece is essentially a urinal with the word’ MUTT’ printed on it. I think this shows an ideal example of Dada for three reasons: to begin with it is in no way like art before, secondly the resources used are not what you would describe as standard art materials and thirdly this piece makes no sense what so ever. There is an obvious variation between this and Salvador Dali’s ” Persistance Of Memory”, in what i would describe as Duchamp slapping this piece together , on the other hand Dali has carefully painted in vast detail his thoughts, his mental image. This painting by Dali is what he would portray as “hand- painted dream photographs “- reuniting the unconscious mind with realism, reality.


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