Salvador Dali Narcissism

Great Essays
Lisa Terranova
Art 109 - History of Modern Art

Salvador Dali was one of the true artistic enigmas of the 19th century. His larger than life persona and his pension for challenging any constraints (artistic or otherwise) placed upon him by society or his peers only served to increase his popularity. But behind all the hoopla and criticism was a creative genius, and a true master of many genres.

By all accounts Dali was a unique character from a very young age. He was named after his older brother who died at age two before Dali was born. Dali felt as though he was the “replacement child” for the child that his parents had lost, and credited his ongoing inner turmoil to this. He had a difficult relationship with his father, perhaps because
…show more content…
The content of this painting is of particular significance to Dali, as it relates to his own narcissism. The subject of the painting is derived from the Greek Myth of Narcissus, a hunter who falls so in love with his own reflection seen in a pool of water that he is unable to leave it and eventually drowns. In Dali’s adaptation the figure of Narcissus gazing into the pool doubles as a rock formation. To the right is a form similar to that of the figure, which at first glance might be mistaken as a duplicate. Upon closer inspection, we see that the image is actually a large hand, seemingly made of stone, holding an egg from which a narcissus flower is growing. The gray color of the hand is in contrast to the warm golden-brown color of the figure, which invokes the idea that the hand is being shown to us in death, an idea that is further reinforced by the looming dark shadow (death) behind the hand, what appear to be ants crawling along the thumb, and an emaciated dog eating something bloody to the right of the hand. These references to death seem to be a foreshadowing of what is to come. There is a group of nude women in the background, and a nude male standing on a pedestal and posed as a chess piece on a chessboard. Because the painting not only alludes to the Myth of Narcissus but also to the narcissism of Dali himself, we can assume …show more content…
This was to be Dali’s last major painting and, at ten feet wide and thirteen feet tall, his largest. Another example of his paranoiac-critical method with the use of double images, this painting is a culmination of various scenes from Dali’s life. Dali’s use of bright, vivid colors evokes a sense of gaiety within the viewer. This painting is Dali’s crowning achievement as it relates to the paranoiac-critical method, and his most impressive application of the double-image. At first glance the eye is drawn to several replications of the Venus de Milo. The figures are painted horizontally across the canvas, in a three-dimensional illusion that brings them from the background of the painting to the foreground. The figures in the background are facing away from the viewer, but the two that have made their way to the foreground are now facing towards the viewer. Looking carefully at these two Venuses in the foreground, we are able to distinguish the shape of the bullfighter’s face; breast becomes nose, abdominal curves become mouth and chin. We can see that the bullfighter’s white shirt and green tie are entwined in one of the Venus’ skirts, his red cape becoming the skirt of the other. There is a small button above the knot of the bullfighter’s tie, so skillfully painted as a three-dimensional object that it appears as if a real button has been glued to the painting. To the left of the

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    What Is Narcissism?

    • 968 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Reflections of Narcissism If studied carefully, the paintings Metamorphosis of Narcissus (Dali) and Swans Reflecting Elephants (Dali) by Salvador Dali, both made in 1937, revealed reflections or double visions. Perhaps the reflection captures the venturous atmosphere of these different kinds of pieces. Dali specifically presents not so much a reflection of power—but feelings of malfunction. Indeed, failure is partly necessary to produce a refreshing image of which one actually exists; Dali substitutes…

    • 968 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays