Good evening. Tonight we go after the story of an extraordinary personality.
He is Salvador Dali the great surrealist painter,
who sees the world through surrealist eyes.
If you’re curious to hear Salvador Dali talk about decadence, death and immortality,
如果你乐于聆听萨尔瓦多•达利谈论 颓废 死亡与永生
about his surrealist art, his politics and his existence before he was born,
we’ll go after those stories in just a moment.
What’s the point of this picture? Is there any point?
This is very important because I work constantly from the moment I fall asleep.
Every of my best ideas coming through my dreams.
Salvador Dali was obsessed with Sigmund Freud,
and you could say his beginnings were more than a little “Freudian”.
Dali’s mother gave birth to her first son in 1901,
a child that she named Salvador.
Who died at 22 months old
Just nine months later the Salvador we know was born,
and was given his dead brother’s name.
Dali was told by his parents that he was the literal reincarnation of his dead brother,
a belief he carried into his adult life.
Sigmund Freud published “Interpretation of Dreams” in 1899,
in which he put forward the theory
that dreams are the key to unlocking the secrets of the unconscious mind.
To access his subconscious, Dali would make himself hallusinate.
not with drugs but rather by using what he called
He would take micro naps during the day.
He would lie in a chair holding a heavy key in his right hand,
underneath which he placed an upside down plate on the floor.
When he fell into a deep sleep he dropped the key, and the clang woke him up.
当他进入沉睡时 钥匙落在盘子上 碰撞声将他惊醒
In that nanosecond he would enter a state scientist call” hypnagogia”,
an in-between state where you are just beginning to dream but are still conscious.
He would use this method with “The Persistence of Memory”,
a painting that although stylistically rooted in realism transcends the world of reason.
The strange, confusing and often disturbing world we visit in our dreams,
这个怪异 混乱 时常令人不安的梦中世界
would make Dali a household name,
and he would remain so for more than half a century,
one of the best known and most bitterly contested figures in the international art world.
In 1938, after years of trying,
Dali would finally meet Freud which he likened to “meeting God”.
Freud was 81, Dali, 34.
By all accounts they were totally bewildered by each other,
and Dali would later disavow Freud.
Great art comes from conflict
and Dadaism and Surrealism were two art movements that
developed as a direct result of the horrors of the first world war.
A war so brutal and incomprehensible,
that artists looked for unconventional ways to make sense of the world.
And their rage drove their artistic creativity.
Dadaism which preceded Surrealism, was more of an anti-art movement.
Surrealism was about finding a bridge between the subconscious and reality.
The founder of the Surrealist art movement Andre Breton,
worked at a military hospital in Paris,
and had been an eyewitness to the horrors of the war.
He saw first-hand how mental trauma patients rejected the rational world,
and inspired by Sigmund Freud, he would seek to liberate the subconscious through art.
There is no dominant painting style in Surrealism,
but the public face of it, would become Salvador Dali.
The mustachioed self-promoter was instantly recognizable,
as were his landscapes of melting watches.
As a painter, Dali had experimented
with lots of styles,
amongst others: Fauvism,
Naturalism and Cubism.
Then in 1926 for the first time he visited Paris,
which was the cultural centre of the world,
and began interacting with artists
such as Picasso, Magritte and Miró
which led to Dali’s first surrealistic work
However, this recently discovered work was produced while he was still a teenager
showing us not only that he was an early Surrealist, but that
he was also already referring to himself in the third person.
Today the art world is unshockable
but Dali’s uncensored imagination,
his imagies of sex, blood and excrement even under the guise of subconscious
was subversive and scandalous.
Dali would be expelled from the surrealist group in 1934
For amounst other things, he’s fascination with Hitler
who he once said turned him on
But by this time he was already a well-known painter
and on his way to becoming a “celebrity”
The first thing to note is that despite its huge cultural impact
it is quite small
about the size of a sheet of paper
Dali plays with a perception of scale
and presents a huge desert landscape with vast depths of field,
reduced to a shrunken world,
as if we are looking down the wrong end of a telescope.
In the same way Dali uses scale to subvert our ideas of reality,
he does so with extreme photo-realism.
He painted the unreal world with such realism,
that no matter how irrational the vision, it is still believable.
This is what makes him unique,
I am against any kind of message.
In 1931, Dali was 27, broke
and living in a recently purchased fishing cottage
in the town of Port Lligat with his future wife, Gala.
Gala would be a divisive figure for the Surrealists,
and as Dali’s fame and fortune grew, she would be constantly at his side.
Their life a never-ending round of carefully choreographed appearances.
While the rocky landscape in the background may look like an ambiguous dreamscape,
it is actually inspired by the surroundings at Port Lligat,
specifically the coastal cliffs of Cap de Creus,
a peninsula close to the artist’s home.
The triangular shadow that appears to crawl across the canvas,
is believed to be cast by Mount Paní, a mountain near the artist’s home.
This early painting in the “Impressionistic” style is the view from that mountain summit.
To me, it’s almost certain that his use of space
was inspired by the earlier images of Giorgio de Chirico,
who was like Dali, a follower of Freud.
From the landscape itself, only a few features emerge.
One is a dead Olive tree growing out of a large square platform.
The olive tree, a symbol of peace, is dead.
This reflects the uneasy political climate at the time,
between the First World War
and the unrest leading to the impending Spanish Civil War.
Francisco Goya is considered by many scholars, to be the basis for modern art.
Bridging Classicism and Romanticism.
He deeply influenced Salvador Dali in his early years
We can compare the dead olive tree here
to Goya’s use of the same metaphor in his “Disaster of War” series,
about an earlier brutal conflict.
The limp corpses on Goya’s tree are mirrored in Dali’s watches.
Dali would reference this image again
in a painting he claimed predicted the Spanish Civil War
which also references this Goya image.
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Dali’s technique of transforming objects
exemplifies the Surrealist belief
that mundane things presented in unexpected ways,
have the power to challenge reason.
Metamorphosis is a key concept in the surrealist movement,
examplified by the paradox of Dali’s rendering
of the hardest and most mechanical of objects, watches, into a soft flaccid form.
Dali’s best work exploits the ambiguity of our perceptual process
达利最好的作品是通过扭曲人体 空间 物质和形式
and plays with our own fears, by distorting the human body, space, matter and form.
The body incapacitated,
the object made worthless.
The painting was done at a time the revolutionary ideas of Einstein and Freud were changing the way
we thought about time and the subconscious.
One idea ties the painting to Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity”
in which the scientist references “Time Dilation” with time not being absolute but relative.
Watches are usually a concrete symbol of space and time.
Their “deterioration” in the painting,
reflects the collapse of human notions of a fixed universal order.
When asked, Dali said his true inspiration for the watches,
was a wheel of Camembert cheese he had seen melting in the sun.
Yet in this interview he contradicts this,
and in fact had a lifelong obsession with science.
The latest development of nuclear physics
proved that the new conception of space/time
is completely flexible.
He later gave another meaning – that the watches symbolise “impotence”
and the hands on the watches are the medical-scientific sign for “Male”,
就一定性无能 拿破仑 所有人都这样
We never know with Dali
but if we take the dream interpretation
then the watches which all show different times,
reflect ideas about the passage of time
and the relation between actual time and remembered time.
One thing is clear: Time, like the watches, is fluid.
有一件事情是明确的 时间 就像这些表 是流动的
He had already portrayed a melting clock, in this earlier painting,
and it would become his signature motif
Dali, who knew the importance of “branding”,
would use the melting clocks for his entire career.
Perhaps the most confusing element of the scene
is the face-like figure, said to be a self-portrait of the artist.
A somewhat similar self-portrait appears in an earlier Dali work.
In “The Persistence of Memory”, the figure appears to be either dead or sleeping –
or more obviously, dreaming.
Dali studied Hieronymus Bosch, an artist often called “The First Surrealist”,
and was heavily influenced by his painting and technique
It is rarely, if ever, pointed out
that Dali’s portrait is a direct appropriation of Bosch,
something I discuss in my video on Hieronymus Bosch.
The positioning of the face could well have been influenced
by a rock formation near his home in port Lligat.
The swarming ants and insects in Dali’s pictures,
are clear references to Death and Decay.
A reminder of human mortality and impermanence.
Insects not only cause death, but they do of course eat the dead.
A year before he made this painting,
Dali made “Un Chien Andalou” with Louis Buñuel,
which featured his dreams about parasitic ants.
In his autobiography, Dali wrote about his childhood experience of being terrified seeing
ants eating the decomposing remains of a bat.
And when he met Gala
he fantasised about her body covered in ants.
The ants are crawling over the only intact pocket watch
as if it were a piece of rotting fruit, rather than a metallic object.
We are being asked to question the substance of the watch, and therefore time.
The fly on the clock face is a clear symbolic reference to art history.
In some historic portraits the presence of a fly,
symbolises the transience of human life.
Dali, who’s life started with the death of his brother,
had a preoccupation with his own death.
Because Death is all the time very close watch(ing) me
and Death like(s) to catch me
His family was plagued by loss,
and when he was 16,
Dali’s mother, an early supporter of his talents, died.
他母亲 达利才华最早的支持者 去世了
“The Persistence of Memory” is about the fluidity of memory, dreams and time,
but the melting watches,the dead tree and the parasitic insects,
all point to Dali’s obsession with death and decay.
– What? You fear death? – Yes.
– 什么？你害怕死亡？ – 是的
– The death is beautiful, but you fear death. – Exactly.
– 死亡是美丽的 但是你害怕死亡 – 没错
Dali and Gala spent the 3 years of the Spanish Civil War in exile in Paris
but when the Germans invaded Paris they went straight to New York.
He turned up on Broadway and in stores on Fifth Avenue.
He painted portraits of wealthy socialites,
he designed for opera and dance and did magazine illustration.
Hollywood came calling, and he worked first for Alfred Hitchcock and then Walt Disney.
He appeared in lucrative adverts,
and was a chatshow and game show regular.
Dali love(s) confusion.
Dali reached the height of his fame in America,
but his critical reception during these years cooled.
He was increasingly viewed as a “commercial artist”,
and his work was greeted with tepid enthusiasm,
and often outright suspicion.
Other artists were famous – Picasso was VERY famous,
but the work came first, celebrity second.
Dali the artist had become a prisoner of Dali the celebrity.
Watch yourself! [Laugh]
Gala died in 1982 and Dali himself died in 1989,
while listening to his favorite record “Tristan and Isolde”.
To the day he died he was -as he would have wished it to be-
a subject of controversy.
But his endless self-promotion grew irritating
and his work suffered.
He would later upset many people over his friendship with the dictator General Franco.
后来 因与独裁者弗朗哥将军的友谊 他惹怒不少人
But his exploration of the depths of the subconscious mind in his powerful images,
tapped into the fantasies, dreams, fears and hallucinations of entire generations.
启发了整整几代人的热情 梦想 恐惧和幻想
And he should be remembered as a consummate draftsman –
and as a pioneer of Surrealism.
An artist who made modern art popular and accessible.
“The Persistence of Memory”, is for good reason,
the most celebrated surrealist canvas ever painted.
It really is the work of a crazy genius.
The only difference between crazy people and Dali
is (that) Dali is not crazy.