“Crucifixion” by Salvador Dali

Date: Sep 24, 2020
Category: Art

Introduction

Salvador Dali is deservedly regarded as the greatest artist of the twentieth century. He was a man, in which madness and true genius intertwine. Dali highlighted the close relationship between these two concepts. He also called himself a genius. The artist founded a new school of thought called Dalinizm alluding to the paranoid nature of the images and own worldview. The current paper seeks to examine the artwork Crucifixion created by the unique and inimitable artist Salvador Dali, as well as provide reviews made by the authors at different times.

 

The Specificity of Avant-Garde Movement

To be an avant-garde artist means to be unique, exceptional in own views, and attitude to art. These masters have a distinguished worldview; they are experimental and innovative. Avant-garde artists introduce and continuously explore new forms. To change the language of art means that a painter develops own specific approaches to how the public should treat the art. At the same time, the painter adds new value, mixes and intensifies colors, as well as adopts new artistic and cultural ideas developed during the artist’s oeuvre. Salvador Dali considered himself the savior of modern art, as he was able to elevate, unite, and reconcile all revolutionary experiments using modern regal splendor and beauty, following the great tradition of classical realism and mysticism. 

The Reflection of Thought-Provoking Ideas in “Crucifixion”

The pictorial art of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali is full of dreams and visions, but much of his inspiration comes from the mind, for example, the idea to portray Jesus Christ on a hypercube instead of the cross. Therefore, the artist creates a clear geometric form and depicts God’s suffering emphasizing the figure’s curved body with protruding chest. It creates the powerful tension that fills the canvas. By producing Crucifixion, Dali makes it clear that callousness and coldness of the world crucify God. In this artwork, the master follows the tradition of the Western classical painting depicting particular religious figures and referring to the Gospels. Gala, Salvador Dali’s wife and muse, looks at the crucified Christ. The woman is not just standing before a crucifix, but beholding him. The artwork relates directly and authentically to the historical moment of Jesus Christ birth, life, and death, but the way it is depicted is unusual. 

The Mythical Personality of Jesus Christ

For a long time, religious scholars considered Jesus Christ to be the magical personality, who was endowed with both human and fantastic features. God urged the masses to humility and obedience to the powerful people. It is not precisely determined, when Jesus was born and crucified on the cross. His emergence is regarded as an event of cosmic importance that has radically changed the lives of people in the world. Crucifixion produced by Salvador Dali in Spain after returning from America, reflect the Spanish religious, passionate, and ecstatic temperament.

Salvador Dali’s Surrealism

Salvador Dali’s surrealism sought to depict reality and hereafter in the four-dimensional space. The painting is striking as the geometric shape of cubes forms the Christian cross. The depicted tesseract is a four-dimensional analog of the cube that cannot exist in the three-dimensional measurement as it is the subject of another world. Salvador Dali’s incarnation of the Spanish temperament, extraordinary thinking, and peculiar vision of the world is embodied in many of his paintings.

The Detailed Description of Dali’s “Crucifixion”

The form of a body including overturned head, stretched, and arched chest, emphasizes the suffering of Jesus. All his muscles are extremely tense. The tension permeates the whole painting, and all these aspects are transmitted to the viewers. The geometric shape of a cube with its sharp edges and corners emphasizes the suffering of Christ, its infinity, and hopelessness. Dali painted the standard of beauty of the young and healthy male body in the image of Christ. He does not look thin or depleted, his body is full of vitality, but Jesus is doomed to the painful and long death full of suffering and pain. In some religious sources, the pose on the cross does not express tension; the body is relaxed, his arms and legs are freely hanging. Cold blows from the painting. The external environment contributes to this aspect. Jesus seems to be hanging in the air, and, at the same time, he is confined to a hypercube. The image of Christ on Dali’s canvas is the embodiment of callousness of the world, its cruelty and hatred. Jesus is bound between the cubes; he is leaned back to the cross. From the part of the chest, four small cubes represent the nails.

Salvador Dali’s Interest in Religion

The artist’s interest in religion is evident. The work is unique; it is distinguished from other works due to using new materials and figural distortions that significantly concerned Dali. The artist refers to religion, but uses Bible stories in a specific manner, bringing a substantial share of mysticism to his painting. Dali is considered to be a successful Surrealist painter of the twentieth century, who refers to the Catalan culture and traditional Christian motives while reviving classical techniques and values.

The Connection between Surrealism, Religion, and Illusion

Crucifixion created in 1954 is a surrealistic masterpiece with a religious subject that can be understood in different ways. Depending on one’s standpoint, the artwork can be regarded as a blasphemous satire or a sign of painter’s respect and tribute to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. However, through this work, Dali expresses his commitment to religious values and depicts them on canvas using the symbolic approach. The master knowingly chose to paint the astrophysical hypercube to show the power of Christ in time and space. No suffering, pain, hatred, gravity and even death could crush his spirit. The world produced Christ, and it eventually crucified Him.

Crucifixion by Salvador Dali is the outstanding artwork of the modern times. The public perception of this masterpiece may shape one’s view of the master himself. If someone treats the painting as blasphemy, this aspect may negatively affect a religious or Christian person as well as his/her opinion on Dali. However, if individuals view Crucifixion in the light of actual intentions, they start to think more highly of the master and his masterpiece. The meaning of the artwork does not significantly affect one’s perception as it is not the main aspect. The large painting, Crucifixion of Christ, who is depicted almost life-size, may inspire one with awe. The artist’s muse and wife, Gala, as well as any viewer, is left alone in front of the unfathomable mystery of the deity.

Salvador Dali is the master of both extreme realism and illusion; he forces the audience to feel the drama and power of every depicted moment. Nothing is left behind. Although one may find some similarities with Dali’s old works and reference to Renaissance period, Crucifixion is still unique and exceptional serving as a testament to the genius of Dali. In my opinion, views on Dali’s work have slightly changed over time; however, the main message that the artist sought to deliver remains unaltered, and the public recognizes the fact that the Crucifixion of Christ in whichever medium is depicted reflects suffering, pain, and hatred.             

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Views Expressed by Various Authors in Regard to Dali’s “Crucifixion”

As a critic of religious art and renowned Christian reviewer, Cevasco treats Dali’s Crucifixion with approval and comprehension. He underlines Dali’s sincere desire to express traditional values in the modern art forms. The brilliant artwork is also viewed as an affirmation of the reality of prayer in the perplexed era. Through this masterpiece, Dali sought to reach the equilibrium between own surrealistic trends and his belief in God. The use of science accelerated that discovery. Cevasco claims that Dali referred to the theory of “nuclear mysticism” while working on Crucifixion. He regarded it as a fusion of Catholicism, mathematics, and science thus producing the unusual interpretation of Christ’s perdition. Taylor believes that Crucifixion reveals a spiritual side of Salvador Dali, and it is quite unexpectedly due to the fact the Spanish artist was a flamboyant public persona. Dali was not only the famous painter of the twentieth century, but also a serious Catholic. Dali openly expressed his gratitude to the Bible and religious values. However, according to Steinhaus, since the sixties, historians have started to study the existence of Jesus. The author has a social goal in mind while delivering his view to the public in regard to Dali’s artwork. Some aspects of Christ’s life are still mysterious. In the first century, the ancient scholars persistently sought to resolve the issue of Creator’s emergence, and Steinhaus is not an exception.

The bloody events of World War II forced the Spanish artist to take religion and faith seriously. Dali worked mostly after this historical event, and, therefore, most of the art historians have not deeply examined the painter’s career characterized by the precise rendering of human bodies and carefree depiction of biblical stories. Crucifixion of 1954 as a peak of this period reflects Dalí’s attempts to reinvent the procedure of crucifixion. The Spanish master did not attempt to place the event in a historical setting. Instead, he focused on abstract forms and four-dimensional measurement while painting the cube and the cross in the unfolded state. Dali highlighted the importance of eccentricity considering it a source of creative energy. While working on the painting, the artist used a painstaking academic technique that contradicted with the unreal space of dreams. The cross is represented as a symbol of suffering while the cube is the symbol of excellence. Therefore, Salvador Dali has expressed the double meaning of crucifixion. He highlights not only the suffering and death, but Christ’s elevation onto the cross and his final victory. Dali’s muse and wife Gala is represented in a worthy manner while Christ is depicted without wounds. It seems that time does not exist here, and every person treats this painting in his/her own way. The eminent artist Salvador Dali proved his genius and uniqueness while painting Crucifixion in 1954. Although the artwork may reflect different meanings, the Spanish painter’s devotion and commitment to art, religious values, and his love to Gala are evident in the painting.  

Conclusion

To summarize, by creating his artwork, Salvador Dali shifts public view concerning the God’s existence in regard to the execution of the crucifixion as the most shameful and painful loss of life. The artist tries to resolve the issue of God’s existence in his own unique, specific, and exceptional manner. The unique geometric body corresponds to the modern human body of Jesus. Crucifixion of 1954 marks the return of surrealist Salvador Dali to Catholicism and the intention to devote himself to religious art. The strong and projected posture of Jesus’s mortal body symbolizes the raising of his spirit above the death.