Salvador Dali Before popping into the main context about Salvador Dali and his obsession with self-portraits, I would like to define what exactly a portrait is and how it has perceived over the past and until now. Portrait is a genre in painting that depicts the visual representation of the subject, usually upper half of individual human beings, which emphasizes on its uniqueness. Portraits normally tell you something about the person or an object in the picture. It does necessarily look like that person, but it would have to give an impression about the inner characteristics of him/her to the viewer. Since portrait is a creative collaboration between an artist and a sitter, artist plays a huge role in making it to the final stage of perfection; it requires willingness from the artist to connect their feelings to the subject’s soul and capture their expression. The ability or desire to portray the features of a particular person in a convincing way has not been universal in the arts. Egyptians created the oldest representation of an actual person with a quite precise image of the face and the body. They sculpted someone mainly in commemoration to or a remembrance of that person, so, as what they believed, soul would find their owner easily. Portraits in the fullest sense were created first by the Greeks in the late classical period (4th century BC). Greek art gave us the idealized portraits of someone who was in the higher level of society or someone who was important during that time, such as states-man, philosophers and poets. Roman art became more and more realistic and precise in its paintings and sculptors; they usually depict a single person, showing the head, or head and upper chest, viewed frontally. The background is always monochrome, sometimes with decorative elements. The golden era for portraiture can be linked to the Renaissance era, where human became the center of the attention and the increasing number of artists who were interested in human appearance and anatomy. Furthermore, in the nineteenth century, portraying started to focus on private feelings and interior world; artists were trying to show the person’s personality with all its complex nature. In spite of that now definition of a portraiture is clear, it’s time to move over to the main topic – Salvador Dali; who was a famous representative of Surrealism art and one of the most widely recognized artist in the world. He was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueras, Spain to a middle-class family who supported him throughout his career. When Dali was sixteen, his mother died of breast cancer, which had a profound impact on him in various ways, such as he was afraid that her mother would be forgotten and he thought he would also might be forgotten ; this event had a powerful impact on a young artist like him at that time. When he turned eighteen years old, he moved to Madrid to study in Fine Arts royal academy, where he was undoubtedly superior to those of many art students or even teachers. He was heavily influenced by Cubism and Dada movements in the Academia. In 1926, he was expelled from the academy because he thinks there were no good enough artists to compete and critique with him. Thus, he moved to Paris, where it allows him to thrive in the most famous art field in Europe. He believed that only if you perfect the techniques of masters, you can develop your own style. Then he continued his work with artists like Pablo Picasso in his art studio, creating some of his most famous masterpieces, such as “Persistence of Memory” (1931), later became an icon of Surrealist art. During this time, he found his life-long wife, a Russian Immigrant called Gala. They married in 1934 - the same year that Andre Breton expelled him from the Surrealist ranks. In the following years, his artistic output was enormous, he is often most associated with the melting clocks. In 1936, he created the two of the most iconic objects of the Surrealist movement; his ‘Lobster Telephone’ and ‘Mae West Lips Sofa’. Dali enjoyed great success not only as a painter, but also as a filmmaker, sculptor, architect, photographer and writer. After
his wife died in 1982, his health and mind both got worse, he quit drawing since that, and even tried to commit a suicide a few times, but later, his flamboyant moustache, unusual point-of-view and spontaneous personality died quietly from heart failure on January 23, 1989. He was also best known for being vain and narcissistic. Dali was definitely an eccentric person, but exaggerated it to help people appreciate his works more. They would have absorbed the abstraction better if they thought he was crazy. When we talk about his abnormal ways of attracting people and his weird behavior, he is the first person who came to a conclusion that public relation is more important than talent; but the difference is he absolutely had a tremendous talent. Even though he was described by his fellow students in the Academia as shy and timid, this was not a big deal for human being like him to change his world and reputation after his uncle’s piece of advice to let him become an actor; his relations with the people around him got better and he disguised his social mortification to start his pathway. He strongly believed in himself that he would gain a lot of fame and attention. One diary entry he wrote at the age of 16 heralded: “I’ll be a genius, and the world will admire me. Perhaps I’ll be despised and misunderstood, but I’ll be a genius, a great genius, I’m certain of it. “– so it proves he was a conceited man even before his success. He was kind of a guy who worships or supports himself more than anybody, as you can see from this quote by him – “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali.” After all the years of dwelling on his mother’s mortality, he understood that being forgotten by people is something very terrible and should not happen to him, thus, he started to create a numerous works of self-portraits of him showing a notorious face, big eyes, unusual moustache and his internal feelings. In most of his portraits, he usually had a In terms of the definition of narcissism, Dali was obsessed with his face because it would become a reasonable enough remembrance that he was someone special and unique. He wanted people’s attention, he wanted them to remember him and he wanted to leave his name boldly in his descendants’ era. Just think about what kind of an artist would reach a point where he expelled from the ‘Surrealist group’ due to his limitless expression of his subconscious world and less interpretation of denouncing Hitler’s fascism. And what would make him fall in love with the Russian woman who has experienced a child abuse at first sight. Probably, a man with a deep sense of mind and an unusual way of thinking. To sum up, Salvador Dali was a highly recognized artist during that time after all those hard works and difficulties he had travelled past, so he didn’t want to lose his dignity in the society by remembered as an artist who has no evident of himself; what would remind them of him in the future? OR. He was way too fascinated by his appearance, uniqueness and weirdness which are who he is and used it as a weapon to take his public relation much higher.
Published on Aug 8, 2013