Salvador Dali's Greek Elements

Part 1


Salvador Dali (Even in photos he prefers to appear outside reality .That is surrealistic! Phillipe Halsman )

Salvador Dalí Domènech 11.5.1904 (Figueras/Catalonia, Spain), died 23.11.1989 after suffering from Parkinson's disease for nine years. Dali is a controversial person, in 1975 Francisco Franco the dictator of Spain and friend of Hitler ordered the execution of five political rivals. Salvador's Dali response to the protests from all over the world: “ We have to execute more people!”. I assume that Dali said this because he was an eccentric person and sometimes he had no limits in his provocations. As Costas Ferris describes in http://www.engelen.demon.nl/666-dali-meeting.htm Dali said that he was not a friend of Franco even if the general wanted to be his friend.

The tragedy of the story is that the execution was shortly before Franco died and Spain became a democratic state and like any civilized country it abolished the death penalty for all crimes (not only ordinary crime).

Dali was influenced by Greek Art, Mythology and History. According to Soby he produced a portrait of Helen at Troy before he was 10 years old. Dali was for me a much superior artist than Pablo Picasso. Here a few examples of his work that contains “Greek Elements”.

My Wife, Nude, Contemplating her Own Flesh Becoming Stairs, Three Vertebrae of a Column, Sky and Architecture. (Poster ) . The new style of classicism symbolized by the Greek head affixed to the wall (shown separately). From a Forum I have the following information: It was painted in five weeks, two hours a day. Dali added "When I was five years old, I saw an insect that had been eaten by ants and of which nothing remaining but except the shell. Through the holes in its anatomy one could see the sky. Every time I wish to attain purity, I look at the sky through the flesh."

Salvador Dali's versions of three of the seven Wonders of the World in Antiquity (all in 1954); a) The Pharos of Alexandria with two versions, b) The Colossus of Rhodes and c) The Colossal Statue of Zeus.


Salvador Dali, Woman with Egg and Arrows, 1978, a version of the wounded Amazon

Aphrodite of Milo in a work of Salvador Dali, The Hallucinogenic Torreador ( Poster) with multiple hidden images. It primarily focuses on the torreador (bull-fighter), whose face is hidden within the repeated representation of the Venus de Milo. The upper portion of the painting contains the bull-fighter's arena, again surrounded by multiple images of the goddess. There is also a hidden image of the bull in the lower left quadrant of the painting (drinking water from a pool), and an image of a boy (possibly a self-portrait as a child, as his clothing represents the approximate time period of his boyhood). (Information from http://www.eyeconart.net/history/surrealism.htm ) More Info , Additional Info



Apparition of the Visage of Aphrodite of Cnide in a Landscape, 1981 (
Poster ) one of Dali's last pieces of Art. (The last produced 1983). Why did Salvador Dali produce this work. He knew that he will die and the image uses a hidden symbol. I have the following information (although no independent confirmation): The triangle with apex upward is derived from the Cretan glyph for the pyramid, the tomb. Since those times its' meaning has been "Death" http://www.big.com.au/fallen/visage.html . I assume that there is a point of convergence in the table and this also could be a symbol of death.



Nike, Victory Goddess of Samothrace, Appears in a Tree Bathed in Light, around 1977. Work influenced by the Nike of Samothrace


Athena in Composition with Greek Head - Mad Mad Mad Minerva - Illustration for "Memories of Surrealism". Minerva loca, loca, loca" - Ilustración para "Memorias del Surrealismo", 1968.

Dali's painting The Apotheosis of Homer "reduces Homer to a broken bit of statuary, a relic, while the solid temple of the muse itself melts"... The "ethereal horse," which may be Pegasus, casting off riders attempting to reach the stars again signals myth's cessation as a legitimate method of contemplating humanity's existence and signals the changing state of not only art, but also thought and reasoning as well (Platzner et al).


Dali's Leda Atomica, 1949, according to the story of Leda the wife of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, Zeus visited from time to time Leda in the form of a swan. Leda in this painting is Dali's wife Gala. Leda is the mother of Helen of Troy which Dali painted when he was young. The objects fly around Leda like electrons around a nucleus. Probably Dali was influenced by the advances in Atomic physics. Leda is painted inside a Pentagram, a Pythagorean Symbol. Yeats described in a poem the strange encounter of Zeus and Leda.

Philippe Halsman, "Dali Atomicus" with the Leda Painting

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939 ) Leda and the Swan

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