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Herbert L Calhoun
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This small short book reveals in just 109 pages what all the others I have read could not do in hundreds if not thousands of pages: give the reader a thorough summary of Dali the man, his major works and how he came to attach to them their respective symbolic meanings. It begins with a history of Dali's sheltered (and sexually repressed) upper class Catalan life. He is from the city of Figueras in the rugged terrain of Northeastern Spain. His family vacationed on the barren coast at Cadaques, which has often been the subject of his landscapes. Dali, who was rumored to be homosexual, was not even fully heterosexual until that is he met and married his best friend's (the poet Paul Elaurd) wife, Gala. Until then, he was almost certainly asexual, blocked by a dreaded fear of not being able to perform sexually with women.
A true outrageous genius, classically trained, and under the heavy influence of Picasso, he quickly broke away to Paris (in 1929) to seek his own place in the world of surreal art, which was just beginning to hit its stride. It was Freud's psychological theories that proved to have had the greatest impact on his surrealist paradigmatic form of expression. Like Freud, Dali believed that childhood experiences marked us for life, and that the world of the unconscious, especially repressed sexual fantasies, was where the rich mother lode of private experiences that propelled the artist, lay. His paradigm (eventually called the "Paranoiac-Critical" method) was channeled through the lens of Freudian psychoanalytic theory.
Dali's interpretation of Freud goes somewhat as follows: In the psyche there exists an irrational, animalistic component of the mind called the id. It is the source of the libido and all sexual drives, drives that from infancy refuse to be hemmed-in by society's constant pressures and attempts at censorship. And since it is unnatural for instincts to be silenced, maturity is mostly a constant inner struggle within the individual to either succumb to, or find alternative ways of getting around the societal censor.
Dreams. a la Freud, proved to be the perfect subconscious platform for a surrealist artist to get around the societal censor. For not only do dreams remove the constraints of the censor, they also remove the constraints of time, space and the wall of moral inhibitions that the society (through the censor) erects. The dream was the modality of expression that Dali chose. Through their symbolism of condensation, displacement and sublimation, Dali was able to not just get around the societal censor, but to transcend it in the most profound and shocking of possible ways.
Using Freud's psychoanalytic theory, his own dreams, and his repressed family background, Dali was able to mine his subconscious and then build a catalogue of symbolic representations, which allowed him full access to, and expression of, whatever repressed sexuality might lay in his subconscious mind. These weird forms, shapes, props and structures we have come to recognize and identify with Dali's paintings. To wit: the sleeping head, the grasshopper, the crutch, the rotting fish, the dreamer, the muscular naked propped-up man, stone-breasted women, and the endless procession of phallic symbols, all have established places within Dali's pantheon of repressed sexual meanings and representations.
It was not just the risque nature of Dali's paintings that got him into trouble, Dali's politics also often got him into hot water. For although he despised the bourgeoisie class of which his family was a member (He said of them that sex, eating, and destruction were interchangeable activities), he nevertheless, much to the horror of his admirers, also supported the Fascist dictator, Francisco Franco.
By allowing the reader to be able to decode the meanings in Dali's paintings, this book vastly enriches ones understanding and appreciation of Dali's works. Ten stars