domingo, 2 de mayo de 2010
The influence of Sigmund Freud for Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí, known by his surrealist style, is considered as one of the greatest painters in the world. His amazing way to paint was marked not only for his childhood, but also by Sigmund Freud's theories which influenced the surrealist movement. Freud’s influence affected deeply the perspective and painting style of this artist in many ways.
First of all, it’s necessary to mention the main founder of the surrealist movement and writer of the Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924, André Breton. According to Breton, “Freud very rightly brought his critical faculties to bear upon the dream. It is, in fact, inadmissible that this considerable portion of psychic activity”. Also it was exposed that Freud’s ideas were really important because his discoveries were “a current of opinion that was finally forming and that the imagination is perhaps on the point of reasserting itself, of reclaiming its rights” (Breton, 1924)
Freud's conception of the unconscious and the importance of dreams encouraged painters, sculptors and writers to pay attention to their personal world of dreams. In this world, thoughts and images they previously would have dismissed as absurd or illogical, would have a meaning. Freud's notions related to art explained that “the sublimation of the artist's unsatisfied libido is responsible for producing all forms of art and literature whether it be painting, sculpting, or writing” (Freud, 1940)
At that time, Breton and Freud were admired by the surrealist circle. Dali felt impressed when he discovered psychoanalysis and read Freud’s Die Traumdeutung and the interpretation of dreams, "It was one of the greatest discoveries of my life. I was obsessed by the vice of self-interpretation—not just of my dreams but of everything that happened to me, however accidental it might at first seem" (Dalí, 1942). Since that moment Dalí's masterpieces have many interpretations of Freud’s psychology as fixations, complexes, and psychosexual development.
To illustrate, there are many paintings and visual productions in which he displayed all his instincts and use of Freud’s ideas to reflect his personality, fears, and sexual obsessions. For example, one of his paintings called Autumn Cannibalism is according to art experts the first stage of psychosexual development (Rudín 2004). Also, paintings such as The Enigma of Desire: My Mother in which is reflected the Oedipus complex. Then he started to do Paintings such as Le Grand Masturbateur and the Spectre of Sex-Appeal which are categorized by psychologists as representations of his fantasies and fears such as sex, his father, animals, and more (Am J Psychiatry, 2003). In Addition, Dali's goal as an artist was “to bring the world of dreams, visions, and hypnagogic imagery to tangible, concrete reality” (Dalí, 1936). By Dalí’s words it’s evident that his main goal as an artist was influenced by Freud ideas.
This surrealist artist is considered a genius for his provocative and original style. Although Salvador Dalí’s perspective and work were deeply influenced and submerged in Freud psychoanalysis, this artist was known for his unique language and his unconventional way to think and represent art.
by: Elena Prado (2007)
BRETON, A. (1924). The surrealist Manifesto. La Révolution Surréaliste. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from
American Psychiatric Association (2003, May 3) Dalí (1904–1989): Psychoanalysis and Pictorial Surrealism. American Journal Psychiatry. Retrieved November 28, 2007, from http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/160/5/855
Rudín, A. (2004). Arte, individuo y sociedad: Salvador Dalí desde el Psicoanálisis, 16, 19-47. Retrieved November 28, 2007, from
Dalí, S. (1942) The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942). Mineola, NY, Dover Publications, 1993
Academic Resources Center Inc. (2001). Freud on Art and Literature. Retrieved November 28, 2007, from http://www.academon.com/lib/paper/24041.html
Dali, S. (1936) The Conquest of the Irrational. Reprinted in Salvador Dali: A Panorama of His Art, edited by A. Reynolds Morse. Salvador Dali Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, 1974, p. 49.
Picture: El torero alúcionogeno