(Figueres, 1904 – 1989)
Birth of Venus and Eros
Gouache, wash and pencil on card, 28 x 18 cm
A Spanish painter and outstanding representative of Surrealism. His pictures and drawings, notable for their unrestrained fantasy and virtuoso technical execution, represent a fantasmagoria in which the unnatural situations and combinations of objects are provided with an apparent veracity and persuasiveness. In 1921–1926, he studied at the Arts Academy in San-Fernando, where he achieved technical virtuosity, copying the works of the great masters of the past. “The highest visual arts always reflect reality with photographic precision,” Dali said. “The most important thing for me is the classical beauty of the works of Raphael,
Velazquez, Goya and Vermeer.” In 1925–1928, Dali, for a certain time, became interested in the art of his countrymen, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, and then turned to the Italian “metaphysical school” of painting that had long interested him. In the works of the representatives of this school, particularly those of Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra, the interest in the ability of symbols to invoke certain images became the basis for investigations of dreams and hallucinations which the artist approached from the point of view of Freud’s theories. Dali’s technical mastery was perfect for the creation on canvas of the atmospheres of sleep and hallucinations. In 1929, he moved to Paris and aligned himself with the Surrealists. Working on the study of manifestations of the subconsciousness, Dali attempted in his works to convey the vision of a person gripped by paranoid ideas. Depicting very familiar objects in an absurd setting and employing the strangest and most unusual of combinations, he named his pictures “handmade photographs” created in accordance with a “paranoid-critical method” that he himself defined as “a spontaneous method of irrational perception founded on the introspective-critical association of images of delirium.” He often used the technique of replicating the same images over and over and the metamorphosis of animated creatures and inanimate objects.
A surprising wedding of illusion and reality is created by Salvador Dali’s work that were a gift from the artist to his friend Luis Escobar, a theatre director. Its surrealistic character is suggestive of an absurd hallucination. The Birth of Venus and Eros is vividly marked with Dali’s eccentric genius of fantasy. The drowning offers a variety of subtle visual and perceptive interpretations. In The Birth of Venus and Eros, the symbolism of the stone and waterfall – the female and male principles, their overwhelming power, their struggle and eventual reconciliation – creates ideal Beauty.
Luis Escobar, Spain (gift from the artist circa 1950);
Thence by descent;
Private collection, Switzerland.