The Average Bureaucrat, Salvador Dali, 1930.
Surrealism is one of my favorite categories of art work. Not that I am a big fan of placing artists into a category/box/etc, but regardless, Salvador Dali is king of that realm from where I stand. The height of my nerdiness can be seen when I visit museums… and when I saw Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) [check it out here] in Philladelphia a couple years ago I was temporarily paralyzed. The colors, the imagery, the perfect size of the piece… I was thoroughly impressed. At that moment I was choked up, didn’t respond to anyone around me, and like many other moments in museums before this one, I realized that this is what I live for.
“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.”
– Salvador Dali
Salvador Dalí Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), 1936.
When I saw this painting in Philadelphia last year I hyperventilated a little bit. To begin, the size of the painting is perfect at 110 x 84 cm. It was large enough to create an interesting world to gaze into, yet not too large that it overshadowed the piece itself. Then there is the sky, which I believe rivals the gorgeous skies painted during the Italian Renaissance. And finally, the primary, angst-filled figure that dominates the surreal landscape is simply bad ass. Dali painted so much emotion in the face, and the diagonals his legs make create a lot of movement, having an all around effect of high energy and discomfort that the painting’s title helps us understand. If you ever get the chance to see this painting in person, please go see it. It is hard to put in words the nuances of this painting that make it the masterpiece that it is.