Appreciating Dali's oil paintings & oil painting certified as early work by Dali


Six Apparitions of Lenin on aPiano


Six Apparitions of Lenin on aPiano 114(H) x 146(W)cm 1931

Centre Georges-Pompidou Muse National d'Art Moderne, Paris


This is a whole catalogue of Dali's images. Cherries represent "the mystery of bifurcation"; ants crawling on sheet music are a symbol of mortality. Busts of Lenin on the piano come from a twilight hallucination, according to the painter's account, that presented itself to him one morning on waking.



Metamorphosis of Narcissus  51(H) x 78(W)cm  1937

Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation



is painting is Dali's interpretation of the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a youth of great beauty who loved only himself and broke the hearts of many lovers. The gods punished him by letting him see his own reflection in a pool. He fell in love with it, but discovered he could not embrace it and died of frustration. Relenting, the gods immortalized him as the narcissus (daffodil) flower. For this picture Dali used a meticulous technique which he described as 'hand-painted color photography' to depict with hallucinatory effect the transformation of Narcissus, kneeling in the pool, into the hand holding the egg and flower. Narcissus as he was before his transformation is seen posing in the background. The play with 'double images' sprang from Dali's fascination with hallucination and delusion.

This was Dali's first painting to be made entirely in accordance with the paranoiac critical method, which the artist described as a 'Spontaneous method of irrational knowledge, based on the critical-interpretative association of the phenomena of delirium' (The Conquest of the Irrational, published in The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, New York 1942). Robert Descharnes noted that this painting meant a great deal to Dali, as it was the first Surrealist work to offer a consistent interpretation of an irrational subject.



The Burning Giraffe   35(H) x 27(W)cm 1935

Kunstmuseum Basel


Dali painted Burning Giraffe before his exile in the United States which was from 1940 to 1948. Although Dali declared himself apolitical - "I am Dali, and only that" - this painting shows his personal struggle with the battle in his home country. Characteristic are the opened drawers in the blue female figure, which Dali on a later date described as "Femme-coccyx" (tail bone woman). This phenomenon can be traced back to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical method, much admired by Dali. He regarded him as an enormous step forward for civilization, as shown in the following quote. "The only difference between immortal Greece and our era is Sigmund Freud who discovered that the human body, which in Greek times was merely neoplatonical, is now filled with secret drawers only to be opened through psychoanalysis." The opened drawers in this expressive, propped up female figure thus refer to the inner, subconscious within man. In Dali's own words his paintings form "a kind of allegory which serves to illustrate a certain insight, to follow the numerous narcissistic smells which ascend from each of our drawers." 

The image is set in a twilight atmosphere with deep blue sky. There are two female figures in the foreground, one with drawers opening from her side like a chest. They both have undefined phallic shapes (perhaps melted clocks, as a recurring image from Dali's previous works) protruding from their backs which are supported by crutch-like objects. The hands, forearms and face of the nearest figure are stripped down to the muscular tissue beneath the skin. One figure is holding a strip of meat. Both humanures that double as a chest of drawers as well as the crutch like shapes are common archetypes in Dali's work.


Oil painting certified as early work by Dali



An oil painting sold at a Spanish antique shop over two decades ago for around 150 Euros has been certified as Salvador Dali’s first surrealist work which he painted as a teenager, art experts said on May 22.

Tomeu L'Amo, a painter and art historian, found the canvas at a store in Girona in northeastern Spain in 1988.

It was dismissed for years as the work of an unknown artist because the signature includes the date 1896 — eight years before Dali was born.

After subjecting the painting to the latest high-tech tests — including infrared photography, X-rays and ultraviolet radiation — between 2004 and 2013, art experts have concluded that it is indeed the work of Dali and was made around 1921 when he was 17 years old.

L'Amo said he sold the work earlier this month, for an amount which he refused to reveal, to a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

“The painting can be considered the first surrealist work of Dali,” said a leading Dali expert who has studied the painting.