Creating What You Know: Dali

As I have been exploring many of the questions that we use to journey through a creation as well as how a person thinks, I was sharply reminded recently of one of the most frequent pieces of advice by other professionals in creative fields. Use what you know.

Last month, Mark and I visited the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. We viewed his work from when he was young and just beginning through an impressionistic period, the long strong surrealistic period and on to a more traditional catholic/religious period. Now, prior to and since all three of our sons have become artists, we have viewed many works of many artists. I find myself becoming more “critical and objective”, of course, from my point of view!

We did not have a great deal of time so we joined a tour which is something we do not usually do. What struck me as I sifted through the tour guide’s words while gazing at Dali’s works is that Dali had a fascination with the human condition from our base needs (ingestion, digestion and elimination), emotion (terror, anger, love, joy, hysteria, mania, depression, obsession, guilt and hopelessness) and relationships often including sex. All this in the backdrop of catholic Spain.

Dali seemed to know curves and more than one way to look at a subject. He anchored this knowledge more strongly through his relationship with Gala, his wife. She evidently is acknowledged as his muse. She also appears over and over again in his works; therefore, he was using what, in this case a who, he knew to guide his creations. I do not know if this was the intent of the curated tour or just my impression but it seemed to me that as Dali aged, his final projects were more about his relationship to Gala than whatever the contracted work intended.

Our family has always loved what we have always called Dali’s “magic” pictures which are the illusions where when you look one way you see one picture and you look another you get a totally different image. Many would have a hard time looking at surrealistic art and see that Dali was using what he knew. Next time you view a creation of Dali’s look into it and I think you will see.

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