The Outline
I. The early life of Dali :
A- The Place and Time of his birth.

B-The incident of his dead brother.

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C-The effect of his brother on him.

D- His study and the beginning of his drwings.

II. The Surrealistic era and Dali :
A-The two important gifts.

B-The price of the gifts.

C-Loosing his paintings before the Nazi invasion.

D-The elements that appear in most of his paintings.

C. The Slave Market and the bust of Voltaire (1940) :
A-The Picture description.

B-The double Imagery in the picture.

C-Gala in the picture.

D-Sexuality in the picture.

E-The land of Catalonia.

Dr. Amin Tarek Balbaa
ECLT 113(21) 15-5-2000
5th Paper: Essay on a
Surrealistic painting
Dali and Surrealism
Salvador Dali was born in 1904 in Figueras, Spain. He had an elder brother who died prior to his birth by nine months. This incident affected him throughout his life. His parents looked at him as reincarnation of his dead brother. He was taken to his brother’s grave and was given free reign of the Dali household which stayed with him throughout his life. Since he was treated differently and in a special way, in strongly influenced his personality. Hence, Dali had a unique and clear character. Living both himself and his brother caused him an obsession concerning decay and putrefaction. This appeared in his paintings in the image of dead corpses or insects. Dali was not a brilliant student, but he was somehow aware of his genius at a young age. In 1917, his father organized his first exhibition. In 1922 Dali was accepted at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. In 1923, he was very interested in Cubism which showed in his paintings of that time (Biography 1904-1929).
In 1929, two very important incidents happened to Dali. The first was meeting Gala Eluard, the wife of the French poet Paul Eluard; later they became inseparable. The second event was him joining the Paris Surrealists. He paid an expensive price for both gifts, first his father threw him out of the house and it took him many years to heal this incident. In 1934, he was expelled of the Paris group. In 1940, he and Gala left France only one week before Nazi invasion, and it was Picasso who paid for their transfer. Dali lost many of his paintings during his transfer.

Furthermore, Dali was affected by some elements which appeared in most of his paintings. First, he was affected by the landscape of Catalonia in which he spent his childhood. In most of his paintings we could find the desert of Catalonia, which he sees it as his whole life. Another element could be Gala, who is the person that he adored. Dali drew either a portrait for her or he drew her watching the scene of the picture. The last element was sexuality, which he gained from the Surrealism. He either drew nude women either for enjoying it or, in sometimes, he drew nude persons as a symbol of poverty and slavery. In his picture “ Slave Market with Disappearing Bust of Voltaire” (1940) Dali gathered between all the three elements landscape of Catalonia, Gala, and sexuality which shows how he was strongly affected by them (Biography 1929-1941).

In this painting Surreal training had served him well, as its influence was appearing in it. He gained a unique style by integrating Surrealism with everyday’s life. Dali painted this picture in 1940 in the United States. This work is a real example of Dali’s work at that time. In this painting Dali experimented the idea of double imagery, which is any change in the head position is taken as a switch between tow different things in the same painting. In this painting, we could find three examples of double imagery. The first is the switch between the Dutch slave traders and the bust of the French philosopher Voltaire. The faces, collars, and midriffs of the two Dutch merchants become the eyes, nose, and chin of Voltaire. The second one is the switch between the hill near the building at the right and the pear placed in the fruit dish on the table. The last one is the switch between the plum beside the pear and the buttocks of one man standing watching the scene. The double imagery is done in a very amazing and clever way. The shirtless girl on the left is Gala watching the transaction. Dali maybe meant to show the similarity between Voltaire and those Dutch traders. From Gala’s face she seems to oppose this idea. On the background of the scene we could find the landscape of Catalonia which is a symbol for Dali’s life and childhood. We could also find Gala nude and other nude slaves, a symbol for sexuality, but here he just shows how the slaves suffered, they were homeless, foodless, and without clothes (Painting Analysis of “ Slave market with the disappearing bust of Voltaire ”).


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