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Salvador Dalí, The Surrealist

The artist who above all others symbolizes Surrealism in the public imagination is the Spaniard, Salvador Dalí. Not only in his paintings but his writings, his utterances, his actions, appearance, his iconic mustache and his genius for publicity have made the word “Surrealism” a common noun in all languages, denoting art that is irrational, erotic, mad–and fashionable. The Surrealists’ exploration of the human psyche and dreams reached new heights in Dalí’s extravagant works. In his paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and designs for furniture and movies, Dalí probed a deeply erotic dimension, studying the writings of Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Sigmund Freud, and inventing what he called the “paranoiac-critical method” to assist his creative process. Dalí’s surrealist works are characterized by their haunting allegorical empty space where even time has ended. An eerie, never-setting sun usually illuminates the barren landscapes, with often amorphous and imaginary creatures in the foreground. Dalí rendered every detail of this dreamscape with precise control, striving to make the world of his paintings convincingly real–in his words, to make the irrational concrete.