Dali was a Spanish artist and surrealist icon, known for his paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, writing, and film. With this comprehensive repertoire of artistic skills and a love for Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories, Dali ployed various techniques to access his subconscious mind to use as a creative tool. One method that he used was his paranoid-critical method, a term coined by other surrealists that describes the practice of uncovering surprising dream-like images from deep within one’s mind. By diving into the realms of his hidden psyche, he materialized bizarre scenes into art forms. He began his artistic journey learning Cubist skills and would begin to encompass many other styles of art like the those of the Renaissance and avant-garde movements as his craft improved (2). His most famous works fall under the surrealist category, however, of illogical scenes with realistic photographic precision.
Dali’s first surreal painting, Honey is Sweeter than Blood, was made in 1927 at the age of twenty-three. This painting marks his transition away from Cubism and more towards the visions of the subconscious mind. It was made between “Dali’s first visits to Paris when he became increasingly influenced by artists who would found the Surrealist movement” (1). The main subject of the painting is a nude woman without a head who sits amongst soft blue and grey clouds. A small fairytale-like creature is placed at the top corner of the painting, and has no proper relation to the center figure. A few impossibly-grown tree branches are incorporated into the scene as well. There is one light source that drapes highlights over the figure, the colors blended to create an incredibly realistic body. The arrangement of matter in the painting creates a non-sensical story that has no evident meaning but to represent the worlds of the subliminal mind- one with “decadence, death, and immortality.” (1).
After his first venture into the surrealist techniques, Dali soon mastered this art form and his most prominent works were completed between 1930 and 1955. He has been acknowledged as a big inspiration for many artists worldwide, and continues to be revered by people of all professions for his unique perspective of the mind’s subconscious.