Saturday, 20 August 2011

Salvador Dali: Three Sphinxes of Bikini (1947)

Between the years of 1946 and 1958 (after world war two), the United States conducted 23 nuclear tests at the Micronesian atoll, Bikini. The tests caused the radioactive contamination of the entire system of islands. The (almost) two hundred Micronesians who inhabited the islands were relocated by the US before the tests, and eventually brought back in 1968 (!). The US lost a lawsuit to the Micronesians in the amount of $100 million when it was discovered, ten years later in 1978, that the levels of radioactivity were still dangerously high.
Salvador Dali - Surrealist
These experimental explosions on the atoll of Bikini inspired Dali to paint the Three Sphinxes with their mushroom cloud-like appearance. Dali is considered the greatest of all the surrealist painters. If you look at the point of view of “expressionism,” then paintings in general are supposed to emphasise the expression of inner experience and/or emotion rather than a solely “photographic” portrayal or observational view of reality. It is subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist that concerned the Expressionist artists.

In surrealism, this goes one step further: it’s the unconscious that is emphasised, and paintings express the workings of the mind, the unconscious, memories and dream states by using symbolic imagery and interesting juxtaposition of subject matter.

Burn brightly, Pete

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