The Three Sphinxes of Bikini
Salvador Dali (1947), oil on canvas, 40.6 * 51.4 cm
Dali was shocked when the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. After that, he produced works on the themes of nuclear science and quantum mechanics, proposing to declare the secrets of the nucleus to fuse classical art with science. This work likens traditional monster of the sphinx to the back of the human head, with hair patterned on the mushroom clouds of the atomic bombs. It uses Dali’s specialty of producing optical illusions through double images to suggest the dangers of scientific progress.
Battle of Tetuan
Salvador Dali (1962), oil on canvas, 304.0 * 396.0 cm
This major piece inspired by the Battle of Tetuan (1862 - 1864, in the collection of the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña) by Mariano Fortuny (1838 - 1874) looks tat the theme of Spain’s military occupation of Morocco in 1860. Dali and his wife Gala are depicted amid the soldiers on horseback. The figure of Gala valiantly waving a sword would seem to symbolize her efforts as the manager who guided Dali to the status of a world-renowned artist.
Retrospective Bust of a Woman
Salvador Dali (1933-1977), bronze/mixed media, 72.0 * 64.0 * 27.0 cm
The original model for this work was shown at a surrealism exhibition held in 1933 in Paris. At the very top is an inkwell patterned after the farm couple in The Angelus (1857-1859, Museo de Orsay) by Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875). Dali attempted to invert the value of food by using it as objects, and in this work he uses a baguette to negate its necessity as food or nutrition.
Venus de Milo with Drawers
Salvador Dali (1936-64), bronze/ermine
This work adds drawers to the head, chest, abdomen, and left leg of the famed Venus de Milo (the Louvre, France, Hellenistic Period). It employs the method known as dépaysement (displacement) by combining two completely unrelated motifs. The unlikely figure of the well-known Venus de Milo equipped with drawers fills the viewer with unease.
Portrait of Madame Maurice Denis
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1904), oil on canvas
The subject of this painting is Marthe Denis, the wife of Renoir’s friend the Nabis painter Maurice Denis (the Nabis painters popular in France at the end of the 19th century were characterized by flat, decorative pictures influenced by the late Impressionist Paul Gauguin). While the model boldly exposes a shoulder, the work is tinged overall with a mild feeling. This can be described as an excellent example of the works of Renoir, who specialized in depicting graceful women bathed in light.
Alfred Sisley was born in Paris as the son of a wealthy English merchant. Although he went to England at age 18 to study business, he returned to Paris to become an artist. In 1874 he joined with Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and others to stage the first Impressionist exhibition.
This work is thought to depict a scene in the vicinity of Moret-sur-Loing, the village where Sisley spent the final 10 years of his life. It is considered a rare work because it was unusual for Sisley to choose hay as a subject.
This work was painted during Cézanne’s early period. Here and there in the painting Cézanne employed the technique of using his palette knife to daub thick layers of paint on the canvas, and he uses black to depict the dense woods. A great many of his works created during the 1860s use black, and that decade even has been called his Romantic period. Cézanne’s works began to take on an Impressionist character, including use of bright colors, during the 1870s.
Peasant Woman, Half-Figure, Sitting
Vincent Van Gogh (1884-1885), oil on canvas and board
Around the years 1884-85, van Gogh created numerous works in which peasants served as models, reflecting the influence of Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875, a 19th-century French painter whose subjects included peasants and rural landscapes). This is one of his works from that period.
It depicts a peasant woman staring forward with a severe expression. One can sense her nervousness at serving as a model from the way her hands are clasped tightly together and the look on her face. The dark tones and grave surface of the painting convey the tough life of a peasant.
Who was Salvador Dali?
Spanish-born Salvador Dali was one of the most versatile painters of the 20th century.
From when he first painted a landscape in oil at age six through his late 70s, he continued a truly broad range of expressive activities including not just painting but also sculpture, prints, stage and fashion design, and film production.
Many people probably recall seeing one of Dali’s paintings in art textbooks or elsewhere: The Persistence of Memory, famous for its soft melting pocket watches.