• 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.