Surrealism in Salvador Dali’s sculptures

  • SHOWING:


Salvador Dali was one of the pioneers of Surrealism and was known for his grotesque, yet suggestive images. His work embodies a deep familiarity with Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories and reflects his obsession with the idea of internal tumult.

His art is characterized by the use of strange hallucinatory characters, often based on dream sequences. He also embraced the concept of automatism, which he renamed critical paranoia and used to access the subconscious parts of his mind.

1. Apparatus and Hand (1927)

Apparatus and Hand is one of Dali?s most influential paintings. This painting reveals the symbolic iconography and surreal environment that would become his trademark.

In 1927, Dali embarked on a trip to Paris and became fascinated with the work of Cubist painters. The trip influenced Dali to embrace Surrealism and Sigmund Freud’s ideas.

2. The Angelus (1929)

As a significant artist in the Surrealist movement, Salvador Dali used imagery and symbolism as a means to communicate his deepest feelings. He embraced the theory of automatism and developed his own system of tapping into the unconscious mind, which he called critical paranoia.

Dali often drew from his own autobiographical material and childhood memories to create works that were teeming with ready-interpreted symbols. One such painting was The Angelus (1929), which was said to have been inspired by Jean-Francois Millet?s The Angelus (1857 – 1859).


3. The Mantis (1929)

Dali adapted the surrealist theory of automatism, which stifles the conscious mind and allows the subconscious to take over. He also embraced Sigmund Freud's work on sexuality and dreams, which encouraged him to search his own subconscious for dream images that would eventually become his signature works.

Using wax to create a template, Dali then recreated the sculpture in bronze to translate his obsessions into a more tangible form. Ultimately, Dali's sculptural practice shook the medium from its more traditional roots.


4. The Woman (1929)

In the early 1920s, Dali was influenced by Parisian Surrealists and by the psychoanalytic concepts of Sigmund Freud. He assimilated these ideas into his work and became an important figure in the Surrealist movement.

In this sculpture, Dali creates a dream-like scene that combines elements of erotica and death and decay. It also contains symbols of hysterical fear.

5. The Screaming Woman (1929)

Dali painted this work just prior to the start of the Spanish Civil War.

This painting depicts a gruesome fisticuffs between two large, elongated figures. It also reflects the anxiety Dali felt in the wake of the Spanish Civil War.

It includes many of Dali's obsessional themes including erotica, mortality and decay. These themes are based on Freudian philosophy and are a strong part of Dali's art.

6. The Man in the Moon (1929)

During the period of Surrealism, Dali’s artworks reflected his fears and anxieties about time, power, sex and death.

He depicted father figures and symbols of impotence that he feared might lead him to an unnatural death. He also explored a series of idiosyncratic behaviors that challenged the viewer’s expectations. These stunts drew the ire of many in the Surrealist movement, and forced Dali to rethink his art.


7. The Man in the Mirror (1929)

Dali drew from a rich and varied source of symbolism, including his own, to convey thoughts and feelings. One of his favourite symbols was the egg.

The egg is often thought of as an indicator of prenatal or uterine life, with a soft interior protected by a hard shell. However, in this painting, the egg hints at decay and death.


8. The Woman in the Window (1929)

Salvador Dali was one of the most prominent and prolific artists of the 20th century. He was a key figure in the Surrealist movement, which was a reaction against social order.

In The Woman in the Red Dress (1929), Dali uses a variety of recurring symbols to express his twisted views on women and sexuality. Some of these include ants, eggs, and drawers, all of which symbolize decay and death.


9. The Woman in the Red Dress (1929)

Surrealism was a revolutionary movement in art. Taking a starkly unconventional approach, the artists were devoted to exploring the human psyche through the use of unusual techniques and images.

In The Woman in the Red Dress (1929), Dali combines the image of a woman with rhinoceros horns that threaten to engulf her body. It is an expression of his enduring fear and anguish over female genitalia.


10. The Woman in the White Dress (1929)

Salvador Dali was a prolific artist who excelled in many mediums, including painting, sculpting and film. He was also a renowned showman who cultivated exhibitionism in his public behavior.

His use of dramatically juxtaposed found elements in sculpture helped loosen the discipline from its more conventional bones, paving the way for renowned Assemblage creators like Joseph Cornell. His impact may still be seen today in artists painting in Surrealist styles, others in the contemporary visionary arts spheres and all throughout the digital art and illustration spectrums.