Painting Gallery #13

Note: a painting with a highlighted title includes an analysis.
The Invention of the Monsters, 1937
• oil on panel
• 51.2 x 78.5 cm
• The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
    The Invention of the Monsters is part of a series of works that one might term as tumultuous, painted by Dalí between 1935 and 1940; the most important among them are Impressions of Africa; Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War; and Autumn Cannibalism. These three paintings reflect the troubled times before World War II. In the book Dalí de Gala, the painter has written about the Premonition of Civil War and Autumn Cannibalism: "These Iberian people devouring each other in autumn express the pathos of civil war thought of a phenomenon of natural history." In The Invention of the Monsters, Dalí has painted his premonition of World War II. Dalí began the picture in 1937, in Paris, in his studio on rue de la Tombe-Issoire and resumed work on it at the winter-sports resort of Semmering, south of Vienna. When Dalí learned that the Art Institute of Chicago had acquired this work, he sent a telegram with the following explanation: "Am happy and honored by your acquisition. According to Nostradamus, the apparition of monsters is a presage of war. This canvas was painted in the mountains of Semmering a few months before the Anschluss and it has a prophetic character. The women-horses represent the maternal river-monsters, the flaming giraffe the male cosmic apocalyptic monster. The angel-cat is the divine heterosexual monster, the hour-glass the metaphysical monster. Gala and Dalí together the sentimental monster. The little lonely blue dog is not a true monster." The theme of the women-horses that one sees here in a herd bathing in a pond is the same as in Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion. Here the shapes have changed completely: three years later they will give birth to a series of pictures entitled The Marsupial Centaurs. About the double figure seen in the foreground, holding a butterfly and an hourglass in his hands, the painter has stated precisely that it was the Pre-Raphaelite result of the double portrait of Dalí and Gala painted right behind it.
Palladio's Thalia Corridor, 1937
• oil on canvas
• 116 x 88.5 cm
• (former Edward James collection) private collection
    This composition and another canvas, entitled Palladio's Corridor of Dramatic Surprise, were painted in Paris, rue de l'Universite, after Dalí and Gala had spent a long sojourn in Italy, particularly in the region of Vicenza, where the painter could see the palaces, the villas, the Olympic Theater of Vicenza, and the other buildings in the vicinity designed by the Italian genius Andrea di Pietro, called Palladio, the most important architect of the sixteenth century. One may read the following comment on these pictures in the catalogue of the Dalí exhibition in 1970 at the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum: "In these paintings, named for the Italian architect Palladio, the mannerist and baroque influences are obvious: mannerism in the figures with elongated shapes, baroque in the postures, the movements, the light treated in the style of Magnasco. The proportions of the trompe l'oeil architectural scenery of the Olympic Theater at Vicenza have been adopted by Dalí. For the scenery he has substituted rows of human figures which, by the shortened perspectives, suggest great depth." The little girl who is seen running in the sun, at the end of the corridor formed by the figures, appears several times in the pictures of the Surrealist period. Dalí has explained that she was the result of two combined memories: his cousin playing with a hoop and the bell in the tower of the school in Figueras that his sister attended.
The Endless Enigma, 1938
• oil on canvas
• 114.3 x 144 cm
• Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Madrid
    This composition is probably the best example of paranoiac-critical activity in operation in the paintings done by Dalí. He is not satisfied with pursuing a double image but succeeds in accumulating and making rise simultaneously, or one after another according to the particular capacity of the viewer, six different subjects, thus justifying the title The Endless Enigma which he gave to this picture.
    The subjects are in succession: a reclining philosopher; a greyhound lying down; a mythological beast; the face of the great Cyclopean, Cretin; a mandolin; a compotier of fruits and figs on a table; and finally a woman seen from the back mending a sail. One can perceive here, besides, appearing in the corner at the right, the upper part of Gala's face with a turban on her head and at the bottom left, balanced on a stick, the skeletal remains of a grilled sardine. Several times during the same period Dalí depicted grilled sardines, placed in dishes, together with telephones, such as : Beach with Telephone, The Sublime Moment, Imperial Violets, or The Enigma of Hitler, in all of which this instrument symbolizes the period of great political tension in Europe which preceded World War II, particularly at the time of Munich, when the telephone played such an important role in the negotiations between the Allies and Hitler. Most of these pictures, including The Endless Enigma, were started - indeed, almost all were painted - at the estate of Coco Chanel, "La Paula," at Roquebrune on the Cote d'Azur.