Symbolism in Dali’s Work

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Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí was not just a skillful artist of the 20th century; he was also an inventive thinker. He was constantly challenging his viewers by adding seemingly abnormal objects inside his artworks that forced them to think outside the box. Many of these symbols were repeated throughout his pieces. The objects began to take on meanings and became staple symbols for Dalí. Throughout the gallery, we carry a large and diverse collection of Dalí’s works that contain many of his popular symbols. This post will discuss the symbolism found within his artwork illustrated by some of his pieces found hanging on the gallery walls of Baterbys.

Elephants:

Salvador Dali, Biblia Sacra, They will all come from Saba
Salvador Dali, Biblia Sacra, The will all come from Saba

The elephants with the tall, skinny legs are found within many of Dalís pieces. They represent man’s desire to reach for the higher, but remaining attached to the ground due to the power of gravity. This particular piece is from his Biblia Sacra series, or his interpretation of the Bible. It is titled They Will All Come from Saba. He likely placed the elephants in this religious piece to show man’s desire to connect to God.

Crutches:

Salvador Dali, Woman with Crutch
Salvador Dali, Woman with Crutch

The crutches featured in this piece represent human weaknesses, but were also an object of intelligence and art that could offer the weak individual a superhuman extension to their body to perform their necessary tasks. Many of his etchings in the gallery, including this one titled Woman with a Crutch, depict woman as the more powerful sex. Knowing Dalís intention with the symbol of the crutches makes sense for this powerful, over-sized woman in red heels.

Ants:

Salvador Dali, Woman at the fountain
Salvador Dali, Woman at the fountain

Ants are found in a large number of Dalís works. This etching, titled Woman at the Fountain, shows ants swarming around a woman’s face and genitals. This turns the female into a faceless, dead, object of sexual desire. Interestingly, the ants were meant to signify death, decay, or strong sexual desire. In this piece, the ants represent all three of those.

Drawers:

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Salvador Dali, Le Demon aile

In many of Dalí’s pieces you can find random drawers coming out of individual’s bodies. His drawers were supposed to be the storage of sins. Dalí compared his drawers to a theory of Freuds that dealt with human narcissism. This work is titled Winged Demon. The open drawers and title of the work seem to be showing that this individual’s sins are open and in no way trying to cover up the “demon” that he is.

All of the pieces mentioned above are currently featured in the gallery. If you are interested in seeing the works in person, or learning more about the Dalí’s in our collection call or stop by the gallery today!