Salvador Dali: A Madman That Is Not Mad
When Salvador Dalí was born in 1904 in Figueras, Spain, he was actually the third Salvador Dalí. His father was named Salvador, and he had an older brother, who had died 9 months before Dalí's own birth. Because of the incredibly coincidental dates between the death of the first child and the birth of the second, Salvador Dalí's parents chose to look at the second son as a reincarnation1 of the first. Salvador Dalí was actually told that he was the reincarnation of his dead brother, and Dalí himself admitted that the ghostly memory of this lost sibling was to haunt him for the rest of his life. He said in several of his writings that the dualistic2 stresses imposed upon him, that of living both as himself, and his dead brother, caused in him a particular obsession with decay and putrefaction3. This is where many of his disturbing images like decaying corpses, insects began forming. In addition, Dalí was teased by the local schoolchildren, who often threw insects, especially grasshoppers4 at him. The grasshopper became a distinct symbol of revulsion5 and horror for Dalí, especially during his Surrealist6 period. Thus it can be said that the events of Dalí's first 7 years of life profoundly influenced his psyche7 and thus his destiny.
Dalí began painting in earnest at about the age of 10. Most of the works done by Dalí as a young teenager were of the landscape surrounding Figueras. In 1917, Dalí's father arranged a small exhibition of his son's charcoal8 drawings at their home. It was to be the first of many occasions in which people would marvel at the wonder of Salvador Dalí's abilities.
At the time that Dalí's mother died in 1921, Dalí thought of himself mainly as a Impressionist9 painter. Although Dalí's father remarried his late wife's sister soon thereafter, this was a turbulent time for Dalí , as he struggled to form his own adult identity away from that of his family, and especially his father. Soon thereafter, in 1922, Dalí was accepted at the Special School of Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving, also known as the Academia de San Fernando, in Madrid.
Once he passed the entrance exams, Dalí moved into the Residencia de Estudiantes (the student dormitories) where he was destined to meet with other great young minds of his time. It was in about 1923 that Dalí first started to experiment with cubism10, often locked away in the seclusion11 of his own room. When his peers discovered him secretly at work on the Cubist paintings, he instantly became of a campus personality, vaulting12 from standard membership to a leader of an avant-garde group of young Spanish intellectuals.
In 1926 Dalí was expelled from the San Fernando Academy, because of his refusal to take his final oral exams. When told that the final exam topic would be about Raphael13, Dalí exclaimed that he knew much more about the subject than did his examiners, and thus he refused to take the test. His expulsion14 adds an interesting twist to his story that the most influential Surrealist painter of our time never actually obtained a formal art degree.
It was in 1928 that Dalí first obtained true international exposure, when his oil painting Basket of Bread was shown at the Carnegie International Exposition in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This photo realistic work is a fine example of Dalí's mastery over yet another artistic style. Painting in the beautiful and so real style of the Dutch masters, works like the paintings of Jan Vermeer15 heavily influ enced Dalí as he was maturing.
In 1929, two things happened to Salvador Dalí that hastened him down the path to greatness. First was his chance meeting with Gala Éluard in 1929 in Cadaqués. She was at that point the wife of the famous French poet, Paul Éluard16, but as soon as she and Dalí met, they became inseparable. The other important event was that Dalí decided to formally join the Paris Surrealists in this same year. In January, he met with Luis Bunuel in Figueras to work on a script for the film which would eventually be known as Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog). He also had his first one man show in Paris at Goeman's Gallery, and was soon on his way to the top. However, there was a price to pay for all this success. Disapproving of his relationship with Gala, Dalí's father threw him out of the house, starting an estrangement17 that would last almost 30 years before being healed.
With no income to support them, Gala and Dalí moved into a small shack18 in a small village called Port Ligat, to the north. There they spent many secluded hours together, as Dalí churned out19 paintings which could be sold to support them. In 1937 Dalí visited Italy and adopted a more traditional style; this together with his political views (he was a supporter of General Franco20) made Dalí expelled from the Surrealist Group of Paris.
Of all the Surrealism achievements, there is one that stands out above all the others. The Paranoiac21 Critical Method was a sensibility, or way of perceiving reality that was developed by Salvador Dalí. It was defined by Dalí himself as “irrational knowledge” based on a “delirium22 of interpretation.” More simply put, it was a process by which the artist found new and unique ways to view the world around him. It is the ability of the artist or the viewer to perceive multiple images within the same configuration23. The concept can be compared to Max Ernst's24 frottage25 or Leonardo da Vinci's26 scribbling27 and drawings. As a matter of fact, all of us have practiced the Paranoiac Critical Method when gazing at stucco28 on a wall, or clouds in the sky, and seeing different shapes therein. Dalí elevated this uniquely human characteristic into his own artform.
Dalí, though not a true paranoid, was able to simulate a paranoid state, without the use of drugs, and upon his return to “normal perspective” he would paint what he saw and envisioned therein.
Dalí was able to create what he called “hand painted dream photographs” which were physical, painted representations of the hallucinations29 and images he would see while in his paranoid state. Although he certainly had his own load of mental problems to bear, it can be said that Dalí's delusions and paranoid hallucinations did not totally dominate his mind, as he was able to convey them to canvas with his miraculous skill. It is in this context that one of Dalí's most famous statements takes on a whole new meaning and understanding.
“The only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!”
Indeed, Dalí used his very Paranoiac Critical Method to enter alternate levels of reality, in which his perceptions were markedly different from everyday reality. His Surreal training had served him well, but paintings like Slave Market with Disappearing Bust of Voltaire 1940, showed that he was quickly outgrowing even their influence. He was developing a style totally unique that would become a watershed30 event in art, that of integrating the surreal with the everyday, so as to offer it to everyone.
Dalí moved to the U.S. in 1940, where he remained until 1948. His later paintings, often on religious themes, are more classical in style. Salvador Dalí died on January 23, 1989.
1.reincarnation [ri:inkB:5neiF(E)n] n.（靈魂的）轉世化身；再生化身
2.dualistic [7djU:E5listik] a. 兩重性的；二元的
3.putrefaction [7pju:tri5fAkFEn] n. 腐爛（過程）；腐敗（過程）
4.grasshopper [5^rB:shRpE(r)] n. [昆] 蚱蜢；蝗蟲
5.revulsion [ri5vQlFEn] n. 厭惡；強烈反感
6.surrealist [sE5riElist] a. 超現實主義的（一種以下意識、夢幻、本能為創作源泉的文藝流派，由法國作家André Breton于1924年首創）
7.psyche [5psaiki] n. 心靈，精神；自我
8.charcoal [5tFB:kEul] n. 木炭畫，炭筆畫
9.impressionist [im5preFEnist] a. 印象派的（19世紀末出現于法國的一個藝術流派，注重繪畫中對外光的研究和表現，以Claude Monet、Vincentvan Gogh為代表）
10.cubism [5kju:bizm] n.（繪畫等的）立方主義，立體主義，立體派（20世紀初出現于法國的一個藝術流派，把物體或人改為幾何形或立方塊的組合，以Picasso、Braque等為代表）
11.seclusion [si5klu:VEn] n. 隔絕；隱居
12.vault [vC:lt] vi.（一躍而）達到特定程度
13.Raphael [5rAfeiEl] 拉斐爾（1483～1520，意大利文藝復興盛期畫家、建筑師，主要作品有梵蒂岡宮中的壁畫《圣禮的辯論》和《雅典學派》，其他代表作有《西斯廷圣母》、《基督顯圣容》等）
14.expulsion [iks5pQlFEn] n. 驅逐，逐出；開除
15.Jan Vermeer [dVB:n vE5meir] 弗美爾（1632～1675，荷蘭風俗畫家，亦作肖像及風景畫，以善用色彩表現空間感及光的效果著稱，作品有《擠奶女工》、《情書》、《站在維吉那琴前的少婦》等）
16. Paul Éluard [eilju:5a:r] 艾呂雅（1895～1952，法國詩人，曾提倡達達主義和超現實主義，第二次世界大戰期間參加抵抗運動，1942年加入法國共產黨，作品有詩集《詩與真理》、《和德國人會面》等）
17. estrangement [i5streindVmEnt] n. 疏遠；隔離
18.shack [FAk] n. 簡陋木屋，棚屋
19.churn out [tFE:n] 粗制濫造出
20.Franco [5frB:NkEu] 佛朗哥（1892～1975，西班牙獨裁者，長槍黨首領，發動反共和政府的叛亂，奪取政權后，任元首兼大元帥，第二次世界大戰中支持德、意法西斯侵略戰爭）
21.paranoiac [7pArE5nCiAk] a.（似）偏執狂的
22.delirium [di5liriE m] n. 譫妄，說胡語，神志失常
23.configuration [kEn7fi^ju5reiFEn] n. 布局；構形；外形
24.Max Ernst [\: nst] 恩斯特（1891～1976，德裔法國畫家和雕刻家、超現實義真實派創始人，使用拓印法和移畫印花法進行潛意識創作，作品有《自然歷史》、《大樹林》等）
25.frottage [5frCtB:V] n. 擦印畫法（將紙或畫布放在不平的有圖形的表面上，通過擦印而拓取藝術圖案的技法）
26.Leonardo da Vinci達芬奇（1452～1519，意大利文藝復興時期畫家、雕塑家、建筑師和工程師，在藝術和科學方面均有創造性見解和成就，代表作有壁畫《最后的晚餐》、祭壇畫《巖下圣母》及肖像畫《蒙娜•麗莎》等，著有《繪畫論》）
27.scribbling [5skribliN] n. 亂涂；亂畫
28.stucco [5stQkEu] n. [建] 粉飾灰泥，灰墁
29.hallucination [hE7lu:si5neiFEn] n. 幻覺；由幻覺產生的形象（或聲音等）
30.watershed [5wC:tEFed] n.〈喻〉分水嶺；轉折點；重要關頭