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The artist who above all others symbolizes Surrealism in the public imagination is the Spaniard, Salvador Dalí. His genius for publicity brought the word “Surrealism” to the level of a common noun in all languages. Not only Dali’s art denotes that is irrational and erotic, but also mad–and fashionable. All at once, his paintings, his writings, his utterances, his actions, his appearance, and his iconic mustache celebrate his eccentricity.
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. While studying the writings of von Krafft-Ebing and Freud, he invented 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.