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The Great Dali Background

I chose to make a character based upon Salvador Dali, the world famous painter from Catalonia in Spain. He lived from 1901 to 1989, and his main studio was in Cadaques.

Dali is perhaps best known as a Surrealist, In his early career he was part of the left wing post war Surrealist movement headed by Andre Breton. The movement sought to break down rationalistic culture, which they saw as underlying the cause of war and social inequity.

To achieve this they brought to bear anti rational philosophy and used ‘automatic’ techniques to draw images from the realm of the unconscious. Their sincere purpose was bring about a revolution to bring imaginative freedom and hence political freedom to their audiences.

Salvador Dali was ejected from the movement for producing an irreverent painting that appeared to mock their ideological hero Leon
Trotsky. The movement was also heavily influenced by the writings of Sigmund Freud, but in particular the concept of the ‘Psychic Unconscious’. Dali himself was more attached to Freudian theory than Marxism.

For most of his career he lived in his studio in Cadaques on the Costa Brava produced artwork that can be considered as a sophisticated visual interpretation and commentary on Psychoanalytic Theory with himself as a life long case study.

Dali was an exceptional character in life. He was Purposefully flamboyant and unrelentingly bizarre. He claimed to have a ‘love of everything that is gilded and excessive’. He fantasized of an exotic and oriental origin claiming Moorish descent. In good Freudian fashion he purposefully indulged his grandiose fantasies ‘in this place where my adolescent sexuality formed’. He is quoted as saying ‘Dalí is immortal and will not die.’

Some see his behaviour as arrogant and narcissistic posturing, but this is to underestimate the man. Given the context of Dali being one of the greatest readers of Freud, all of the seemingly bizarre comments, behaviour and images were actually intented to illustrate what he believed the structure of the human unconscious to be. As such he was very rigorous in his artistic and performative depictions of the content and theoretical structures of the Freudian unconscious.

His methods were focused on capturing and depicting dream imagery. He developed his skill in capturing dreams and developing them into dreamscapes over many years. The painting are naturalistically executed in a way that reflects a cinematic pictorial understanding.

The images, sculpture, books, buildings, films, jewelry etc…….. that he produced have had a profound effect on western visual culture, and went a long way towards injecting the notion of the unconscious into our mainstream culture. A brilliant man.



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