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Salvador Dalí

Theo, High School Intern

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Left: Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989). The Accommodations of Desire, 1929. Oil and cut-and-pasted printed paper on cardboard; 8 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (22.2 x 34.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.16). Right: Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989). Madonna, 1958. Oil on canvas; 88 7/8 x 75 1/4 in. (225.7 x 191.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Drue Heinz, in memory of Henry J. Heinz II, 1987 (1987.465). Both: © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

«My family has a penchant for strolling through museums. I've appreciated this more as I've gotten older, but as a kid I got bored easily. Pausing before a piece by Salvador Dalí was always an incredible relief, and I came to crave the fluid style and disturbing clutter of his work.»

I think my interest in Dalí was first piqued by an animated film adaptation of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes's epic novel, that I saw when I was five years old. I loved it, and even forced my grandparents to endure several re-screenings, before they showed me a few Dalí works inspired by the novel. I was enthralled. Whenever I went to the Metropolitan Museum after that, I made a beeline for Dalí's work.

Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989). Study for Don Quixote, ca. 1956. Ink on paper; 7 1/8 x 7 in. (18.1 x 17.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Melinda and Alexander Liberman, 1994 (1994.591.3) © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Dalí became an ever-present figure in my mind. I respected him for popularizing Surrealism, but as a strange kid, I was primarily captivated by his authentic, all-around strangeness. His brilliant mustache punctuated the haze of my daydreams and became a motif in my doodles. The more I learned about his life and work, the more I felt he’d ignited a peculiar phenomenon. In creating artwork concerned with dreams, he sent real tremors along the divide of fantasy and reality.

Yet there is one Dalí painting at the Met that I never liked much until recently. In Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), Christ is suspended in front of an unfolded hypercube over a checkered floor. Dalí's wife and muse, Gala, stares up at Christ with an expression that could be awe, devotion, or religious fervor.

Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989). Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), 1954. Oil on canvas; 76 1/2 x 48 3/4 in. (194.3 x 123.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of The Chester Dale Collection, 1955 (55.5) © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The idea of a hypercube was at first incoherent to me, but I'll try to explain. A hypercube is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Extending a cube into the fourth dimension creates a hypercube. A cube has six faces, and a hypercube has eight cells (a cell is a three-dimensional component of a four-dimensional object). This painting contains an unfolded hypercube; just as you can unfold the six faces of a three-dimensional cube into two-dimensional space to create the shape of a cross, you can unfold a hypercube into a three-dimensional crucifix.

Dalí uses this projection of a four-dimensional shape in three dimensions as a literal representation of the transition of Christ from one dimension to the other. This painting, it seems, is concerned with faith and logic; it asks us to think about the nature of and relationship between God, man, and science. It captures a surreal aspect of divine geometry while maintaining a reverential atmosphere. Dalí's work is rarely as balanced and obliquely clever as Corpus Hypercubus, a painting I can finally appreciate.

See more works by Salvador Dalí in the Museum's collection.

Comments

  • christine says:

    I have an original dali etching titled "dove". It has a certificate of authenticity. I have tried searching for it but it must be rare. Does anyone know what this is worth?

    Posted: June 12, 2014, 2:45 p.m.

  • Annie Dolmatch says:

    Dear Christine,

    Thank you for your comment. As a matter of policy, the Museum does not verify or appraise works of art. There are professional services that can assist with this type of information. You could try contacting your local university to get a referral in your area.

    Sincerely,

    Annie Dolmatch
    Website Managing Editor

    Posted: July 1, 2014, 5:08 p.m.

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About the Author

Theo is an intern with the Museum's High School Internship Program.

About this Blog

This blog, written by the Metropolitan Museum's Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and occasional guest authors, is a place for teens to talk about art at the Museum and related topics.