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Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali

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Michael Ungar

on 27 February 2018

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Transcript of Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory (1931)
Salvador Dali's pioneering work in art is called surrealism & was inspired by Freud's theories and ideas in psychology.
*Educational Fair Use Disclaimer*
Salvador Dali, Dream caused by flight of a bee around a Pomegranate a second before awakening (1944), oil on wood, 51 cm × 40.5 cm (20 in × 15.9 in)Thyssen-Bornemisza Muesum, Madrid


Salvador Dali, The Enigma of My Desire or Mother, My mother, My Mother (1929), oil on canvas, 110 x 150.7 cm, Auctioned (not sure of location)

Salvador Dali, Oedipus Complex (1930)
Salvador Dali, The Lugubrious Game (Dismal Sport) 1929 oil on cardboard, 44.4 x 30.3 cm, Private Collection, Paris, France
Salvador Dali, The Enigma of William Tell (1933), oil on canvas,
Salvador Dali, The Spectre of sex appeal 1932, oil on canvas, 7-in. x 5-1/2 in.
Salvador Dali, The great Masturbator 1929,110 cm × 150 cm (43.3 in × 59.1 in), oil on canvas, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
*This site was created as the final student project for AP Art History at School Without Walls, Washington, DC. All information contained within this site was created by students and is intended for educational purposes only. Commercial use or distribution is not permitted. This site was created based on the fair use exemption of the U.S. Copyright Law and prepared using multimedia fair use guidelines. Every attempt has been been made to properly attribute and credit copyrighted material with citations.*
Works Cited
Salvador Dali, Illumined Pleasures 1929, oil on board, 0' 9" x 1' 2" x 0' 0" (24 cm x 35 cm x 0 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York,
Freud's Influence on Dali's Surreal "Dream" Painting." The Official Blog of Park West Gallery. Park West Gallery, 9 Feb. 2010. Web. 22 May 2014.
"A Silent Understanding." : The Influence of Sigmund Freud for Salvador Dalí. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014.
Breton, Andre. "Manoeuvresto: The Influence of Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Dreams on the Movement of Surrealism." Manoeuvresto: The Influence of Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Dreams on the Movement of Surrealism. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014.
Secrest, Meryle. "The Unique Style of Salvador Dali." The Unique Style of Salvador Dali. N.p., 1992. Web. 01 June 2014.
"Salvador Dali." Persistence of Memory, 1931 by. N.p., 2011. Web. 01 June 2014.
MARISSAREN. "Amateur Research." Amateur Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2014.


The Persistence of Memory is Salvador Dali's most popular work. Before joining the Surrealist movement, Dali studied psychoanalysis and the works of Sigmund Freud. By using elements of a dream, he composed this work of art. The watches in this piece were, "nothing more than the soft, extravagant, solitary, paranoiac-critical Camembert cheese of space and time... Hard or soft, what difference does it make! As long as they tell time accurately" says Dali. There is an image of ants in the sunshine as well as an olive tree with no branches. The landscape in the painting reflects where Dali lives. The effects shown by the lighting of the beach are real depictions of Dali's home.
This work directly correlates with the Freud's theories about dreams and his discovery of a dreams length. The women in this painting is Gala (Salvador's wife) sleeping and sunbathing on rocks in the sea. The pomegranate and the bayonet represent her abrupt awakening from the dreams as well as the singer of a bee. The tiger represents the body of the bee. The fish represents the bee's eyes. The elephant is a version of a sculpture by Bernini in Rome.The pomegranate floating between to droplets of water represents the goddess Venus
Salvador Dali, Park West Gallery”Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” (1944), Salvador Dali. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid. ©Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
This painting is greatly influenced by Freud's theory called the Oedipus Complex. The Oedipus complex basically explains that it is within the unconsciousness of a boy to want to overcome his father as explained by the ancient Greek story of Oedipus. This painting shows the relationship that Dali had with his mother. His mother was very supportive of him.
The Enigma follows up with exploring the Oedipus Complex . Through the use of rocks, hollow shells, and insects, Dali shows his complex feelings for his mother. The rocks is somewhat close to a human- like shape. Thus, explaining the title. on the left of the painting you see Dali embracing his father with a lion's head and a dagger. The lion's head represents the sexual desires he has but, has to let go. The dagger represents the Oedipus Complex theory.
The Lugubrious game show cases the sexual fears within Dali. He feels shameful of masturbation. The man in the forefront of the picture has a bloody handkerchief in his hand and blood on his shorts. It implies that the man has castrated himself. The statue has a hand in the position of masturbation. The statue is also ashamed because one hand is covering his eyes and another figure is covering up his private parts. There is also a swirl of sexual images at the top of the painting.
Salvador Dali has painted a series of three paintings with William Tell. This is the third and most popular William Tell painting. William Tell is seen knelling with the grinning face of Vladimir Lenin. This painting depicts how he felt about his father. During this time, Dali's father disowned him. The crutch in the painting symbolizes death and resurrection. The crows in the background also resemble death. William Tell is holding young Dali. He puts a lamb cutlet there to imply that he wants to eat the child (Paternal Vengeance). Dali was almost expelled from the Surrealist society because he depicted Vladimir Lenin.
Dali explores sexuality once again with this painting. This painting shows a little boy (Dali) on a beach intrigued with the womanly figure
on the left. The figure of the women is outlined. She has legs and breasts. Dali did not include the head of the women. There is no indication on why. The boy holds the ball and hoop which according to Freud, is the sexual anatomy's of male and female. It's almost as if the womanly body is like a monster towering over a child.
Dali was 25 years old and had not met Dala yet when he painted this painting.He was in Paris at the time and his needs were not quenched. He was still a virgin at the time. His knowledge at the time hindered him because he knew a lot about venereal diseases. The figure in the middle is much like that of a face and nose. The grasshopper was something that Dali was afraid of. It also represented decay and death.The abstract shaped flower vessel represents hopes to be filled. The thigh of the man shows a trickle of blood which represents castration and/or menstruation.
Image: Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989)
Illumined Pleasures 1929 (Oil and collage on composition board
9 3/8 x 13 3/4" (23.8 x 34.7 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection
© 2013 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
This work showcases Dali's talent with miniatures. Many of his classic symbolism is used here. He uses the same symbols which are in "The Enigma of My Desire" and "The Great Masturbator. The bottom right depicts men riding bicycles with stones on their heads. This was greatly influenced by Rene Magritte.The left depicts a man shooting to a rock that bleeds.
Salvador Dali, Sleep 1937
Dali based this work off of the Freudian theory of dreaming. He explores the realm of sleep for surrealist artists. The head is supported by crutches. It suggest that the head might collapse if it is moved. Crutches are a symbol of death which is implied if the head collapses. The dog in the left corner also is held by crutches. It implies that dreaming is essential to life.
Freud, surrealism & Cubism
Taking Freud one step further, however, was Picasso, who pioneered the art form of Cubism.

In Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, completed in 1907, Picasso brings together several fundamental ideas of Freud’s human psyche.

First, the appearance of disorganization in the painting suggests aggression, one of the fundamentals of the id. In addition to this, the sharp edges of the painting link it to violence which goes hand in hand with aggression.

Also, Picasso paints the bodies of the women nude which relates directly to the basic sexual nature of humans. If Freud were to look at this painting, it would seem to him to be the manifestation of the id, supplying the most fundamental human needs and behaviors.
Picasso and Braque invented specific shapes and characteristic details that would represent the whole object or person. In Braque's Violin and Palette (1909-10), we see specific parts of a violin that are meant to represent the whole instrument seen from various points of view (simultaneity): a pentagon represents the bridge, S curves represent the "f" holes, short lines represent strings, and the typical spiral knot with pegs represent the violin's neck.
During the years 1910 through 1912, these two great masters invented a new style that took the basics of traditional European art—modeling in light and shade to suggest roundness, perspective lines to suggest space, indeed the very idea of making a recognizable description of the real world
Georges Braque & Pablo Picasso
Taking Freud one step further, however, was Picasso, a cubist.
In Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, completed in 1907, Picasso brings together several fundamental ideas of Freud’s human psyche.
First, the appearance of disorganization in the painting suggests aggression, one of the fundamentals of the id. In addition to this, the sharp edges of the painting link it to violence which goes hand in hand with aggression. Also, Picasso paints the bodies of the women nude which relates directly to the basic sexual nature of humans. If Freud were to look at this painting, it would seem to him to be the manifestation of the id, supplying the most fundamental human needs and behaviors.
Braque & Picasso
Cubism was an innovative art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. In Cubism, artists began to look at subjects in new ways in an effort to depict three-dimensions on a flat canvas. They would break up the subject into many different shapes and then repaint it from different angles.
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