Salvador Dali & Surrealism

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SALVADOR DALI & SURREALISM

Surrealism (from French surrealisme - supernaturalism) - a modernistic direction in the art, appeared after the First World War in France, during 1920s. Its founders considered surrealism as a way to recognize subconscious, or supernatural. By definition of the founder, and the ideologist of this direction André Breton the surrealism is " the pure mental automatism, the purpose of which is to express, either orally, or in writing, everyday ideas. Surrealism is a dictation of ideas beyond any control of mind, beyond any aesthetic or moral imaginations." (Ades 28) Artists weren’t only creating new style in art and literature, but, first of all, they were modifying the world and life. Surrealists were sure that inconceivable was beginning to incarnate the earth.

The formation of Surrealism takes its roots from Dadaism. The impudent art arisen in conditions of horror and disappointment of the artists before the major catastrophe – the European revolutions (1916-1918). This event shattered Switzerland, Austria, France and Germany. Dadaism basically rejected any positive aesthetic value, and offered an “antiaesthetic” value for everything. For Dadaists everything " reasonable, kind, eternal " had failed, and the world appeared to be unfair, mean, and ugly. The values of Dadaists were to destroy any style of beauty by means of "ugliness". Revolt of Dadaist had somewhat settled in the middle of 1920s. Dadaists mainly relied on “accidental effects” as a main working tool. Artists began dripping paint on canvas, and forming irrational configurations. The surrealistic attitude towards inconceivable, or to the elements of chaos is directly grown from Dadaistic roots. But surrealists trend in art wasn’t simply to destroy, but create through destruction. The bohemian anarchism of Dadaists had a strong affect on Dali, and therefore he became a true follower of their scandalous behavior. (Faerna, 32-40)

Surrealists hunted for unpredicted in order to free from the control of the mind. (For example, they placed a sheet of a paper on rough surfaces and rubbed a paper with dry paints, and received fantastic configurations reminding of thickets of a fantastic wood.) But great masters weren’t satisfied with such primitive methods of painting. They had to achieve internal irrationality or mindless state of mental life. For this purpose, forms of visual self-hypnosis were practiced. They created "bewitching" forces by staring at the movement of fire, or the movement of clouds, or etc. Transition from "mechanical" perceptions to "psychological” (or psychoanalytical) perception, gradually influenced all masters of surrealism. (Descharnes, 8)

Surrealists assembled meetings or "trainings" which were named as sommeils – or "dreams in reality ". They played during these meetings. They were interested in accidental and unconscious semantic combinations, which occurred during "bouts-rimes (word game).” Each of them made a phrase, not knowing about the words made by the other participants of the game. So, once they came up with a phrase "The refined corpse will drink a fine wine " was invented. The purpose of this game was to train to free your consciousness and logic. By doing so they were able to gain chaotic forces from the chasms of subconscious. By this way, ideas of surrealism had really turned into an explosive: destroying everything on its way, shattering any truth or a principle based on a reason, belief, virtue, or ideal beauty. It destroyed beauty that was viewed by radical innovators as art. They viewed life as a synonym of deceit, and lifelessness. Many surrealists did not focus much on techniques of painting, they were interested in the outcome of the painting. The burst of nihilism was formed among young artists during those times. Not having faith in anything, they also drew this “ANYTHING."

Dali’s surrealism, doesn’t present any politics, an intimate life, an aesthetic beauty, a history, or anything else. In his art there is only a Surrealistic Creativity, which transforms everything into something new as it contacts it. Dali painted about everything that was essential for the person of that time. The themes of his painting varied from sexual revolution to preparation of meal. Some of other themes of his paintings were civil war, nuclear explosions, Nazism, Catholic beliefs, science, or classical art. For sane people, Dali’s art was something inconceivable and shocking. Somehow he even built a so-called “surrealistic object,” which was absolutely not suitable for actual use. This was his embodiment of his obsessive ideas, and manias. This object was called “the astral chair.” The chair’s leather coating was replaced by chocolate coating, a door handle was screwed on one leg, and other leg stood on a mug with beer. Surely such a chair would simply collapse by the impact of a door swing, spilling the beer all over the floor, and causing an alarm and confusion for the people around it.