Sunday Dalí: The Gran Opera, 1957. Oil on canvas. Private collection.
The Gran Opera is part of the Seven Lively Arts series of paintings commissioned by Billy Rose, the American impresario. The first set was destroyed in a fire in Rose’s home where the paintings were being stored. Rose commissioned a second set from Dalí using the insurance money.
Sunday Dalí: The Invention of the Monsters, 1937. Oil on canvas, 51.4 x 78.1 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago.
When the art institute purchased this painting Dalí sent these words along with it:
I am pleased and honored by your acquisition. According to Nostradamus the apparition of monsters presages the outbreak of war. This canvas was painted in the Semmering mountains near Vienna a few months before the Anschluss and has a prophetic character. Horse women equal maternal river monsters. Flaming giraffe equals cosmic masculine apocalyptic monster. Cat angel equals divine heterosexual monster. The hourglass equals the metaphysical monster. Gala and Dalí equal the sentimental monster. The little blue dog is not a true monster.
You can get a much larger version to see all of Dalí’s details here.
There’s a lot to unpack in this prophetic work. Suffice to say that Dalí believed that the upcoming war in Europe was not only inevitable, but that it would change the course of European society forever.
Michael R. Taylor, Dalí, (Venice: Rizzoli, 2004), 274. ↩
Sunday Dalí: Phantasmagoria, 1930. Oil on panel, 69 x 44 cm. Property of Jack Nicholson, Beverly Hills, CA.
The keys on the stand that support the image of Dalí’s mother-as-recepticle suggest that there are secrets in this painting to be unlocked. That standard interpretation, as with most of Dalí’s works from this time, is a Freudian analysis. The lion represents Dalí’s father, who gazes with sexual desire at Dalí’s mother. Dalí’s face is shown as The Great Masturbator to which a grasshopper clings. The grasshopper mounts Dalí’s mouth in the sexual act signifying Dalí’s mute terror and sexual anxieties. Dalí’s pain is shown by his bleeding nose.
The bird is in reference to Da Vinci’s memory of a vulture that visited the renaissance master’s cradle and opened his mouth with its tail feathers. Da Vinci might have hidden the anecdote in his painting Virgin and Child with St. Anne, in which Freud found a hidden bird.1
- Dawn Ades and Michael R. Taylor, Dalí, (Venice: Rizzoli, 2004), 128. ↩
It’s a little bit funny that we’re called Surreal Football and also hate Barcelona, when the most famous surrealist of all time was Catalan, and childhood friends with early day Barcelona star players at that. But then, we don’t have to explain ourselves to anyone. Especially you, fuck you.