The Unique Style of Salvador Dali
m to revolutionize the art of the twenty-first century. All of his
efforts to improve techniques that were already mastered did not gain
him any significant fame. He tried to improve many different styles
of art, such as Impressionism, Pointillism, Futurism, Cubism, and
Neo-Cubism (Secrest 15). Nevertheless, he sought to fulfill the needs
of his mental and social life through a new form of art. This new
style of art was Surrealism that allowed Dali to express all of his
erotic desires and at the same time change the way the
world viewed art.
Dali sought a change in his life after the meeting with the Surrealists
in 1928 in Paris and he knew that this change was not going to occur
in Catalonia. However, the Surrealists saw in Dali the future of the
movement, because he was armed with an exceptionally rich imaginary
baggage. This baggage was a result of his erotic desires for women
and his undying interest in the concept of the unconsciousness devised
by Sigmund Freud. His precise style enhanced the nightmare effect
of his paintings. By 1929 he had become a leader of surrealism.
Dalis first Surrealist period was in the year of 1929 when he
first joined the movement in Paris. One of his most prominent works
during this period is The Great Masturbator, which was influenced
by his strong attraction to the wife of Paul Eduard, Gala (Secrest
128). The main subject in this work is a large female figure with
a fractured head, yet very calm and taken into deep emotions. The
presence of the cracks on the face could signify a form of physical
exhaustion. Nevertheless, the picture can be analyzed from different
aspects since Dali was able to incorporate many odd objects to it.
An example of this is what appears to be a grasshopper on the womans
belly. This work somewhat depicts Dalis emotions toward Gala.
The appearance of Gala was a revelation for him. He saw in her the
imaginary female figure that he has been long waiting for. Gala for
him was an object of worship, because she represented his childhood
As his style matured, Dalis works became more and more affected
by the concept of psychoanalysis devised by Freud. Dalis works
were increasingly shaped into dreamlike illustrations. This was clearly
seen in his most famous work the The Persistence of Memory, in which
he depicted several clocks as melted in a desert setting with the
ocean appearing below the horizon. Dreams consisted of a large segment
of his life, because he would take siestas, or midday rests, in which
he encounters more and more dreams (Etherington-Smith 9). He considered
the siesta as a state that is achieved at the moment that one forgets
about ones body or in psychoanalysis the state of the unconscious.
Yet, his dreamlike style was combined with his sexual desires to give
a variety of works with different themes.
Among them is The Specter of Sex Appeal, in which he depicts himself
as a child watching a brutalized body of a woman, who is barely able
to support herself with the aid of the sticks (Secrest 130). Her head
seems indistinguishable and seems as if it blends with the giant rocky
cliff in the background. He depicts this state of exhaustion of the
woman by the use of crutches to support her back and her arm. This
style persisted in numerous of Dalis future works and did not
mature any further; rather, he tried to keep it consistent to address
different themes with the same effectiveness. Nevertheless, Dali adopted
the influence of politics and religion into his surrealist style.
In 1934, Dali was accused of showing an interest in the fascist movement
led by Hitler and as a result he was kicked out of the Surrealist
group in Paris. This did not affect Dalis art or life because
by that time he was well known worldwide for his special style. The
main advancement in Dalis style was the production of religious
works. The most famous and also the first of all of his religious
works was The Madonna of Port Lligat, in which he arranged the picture
around a piece of bread that is visible through a hole in Jesus
body (Etherington-Smith 328). Here the influence of Gala was also
seen, because he incorporated her into the picture as the Virgin and
The style of Salvador Dali was the most famous and most creative of
the twenty-first century because he developed and nourished a style
that was insignificant before his time. The dominant themes in his
career revolved around his childhood sexual desires and on the study
of the unconscious mind. Galas presence in his life greatly
relieved of many mental complication, which allowed him to incorporate
other themes into his works later in his career. The Great Masturbator,
The Persistence of Memory, The Specter of Sex Appeal, and The Madonna
of Port Lligat are the works that can summarize the themes that were
incorporated into most of Dalis works.
Secrest, Meryle. Salvador Dalí. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1986.
Etherington-Smith, Meredith. The Persistence of Memory: A Biography
of Dalí. New York: Random House, 1992.