Does Dali Dream of Distorted Elephants? Essay

Does Dali Dream of Distorted Elephants? Essay

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Salvador Dalí is whom many people think of when they think of the quintessential modern artist. But his career actually had many styles, and inspirations, and he was never a modernist. He was, instead, a surrealist, part of the beginnings of a movement that descended from a post-WWI reaction to bourgeoisie and materialism. By 1946, when Dalí painted “The Temptation of Saint Anthony”, he had lived through two world wars, emigrated from his home Catalan province (and Europe), and been both a figurehead and an exile of a significant artistic movement. In 1946, Dalí was in a transition period between his most famous surrealist style (one that was very much his own, contrary to the influences owed to his past involvements) and a more reactionary focus on the sciences and mathematics that preoccupied his later years. Given all these influences, it almost seems appropriate that Dalí would turn to a religious subject in a time of confusion, or crossroads, and paint a subject so utterly contrary to any of his expressed beliefs or influences. “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” can be considered one of Dali’s last homages to surrealism and simultaneously a reaction piece to the evident godlessness of World War II.
Salvador Dalí was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueras, Spain, a city of Catalonia. He attended both a public school and a private Christian school during his childhood, after proving to need a bit more discipline than standard teaching methods could give, and according to his own (likely biased) accounts, he was troubled as a child in a very Freudian manner – megalomaniacal and “hypersensitive”. Given the flamboyant content of his autobiography, as several scholars have observed, that behavior continued throughout his lifetime, and ...


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Bigsby, C.W.E. Dada and Surrealism. London: Meuthuen & Co Ltd, 1972. Print.
Butler, Edward Cuthbert. "St. Anthony." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 6 Apr. 2010 . Web.
“Dalinian Symbolics.” Dali Exhibition Montmarte Paris. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2010.
Getlein, Mark. Living With Art. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
Soby, James Thrall. Salvador Dali. New York: Arno Press, 1968. Print.
"The 1940s: World Events: Selected Occurrences Outside the United States." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 5: 1940-1949. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 Apr. 2010.

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