Salvador Dali is one of the most influential, famous, and creative painters of all time. Not just a painter, but his personality was as unique and bizarre as his paintings. Call it the curse of success; his surrealistic paintings are so famous that they overshadow his other artworks. So we decided to put light on some paintings by Salvador Dali that are not surrealistic.
Just by hearing the name “Salvador Dali” creates an image, or should I say, painting in people’s minds. Surrealistic, thought-provoking, bizarre, and hard to understand, but once understood, they convey their message so fluently and beautifully. But it would be wrong to brand Dali, just a surrealistic painter with a pet anteater.
Dali started surrealism later in his creative life. In his early days, he painted with every style that was relevant back then, from impressionism to cloisonne to cubism. And this is what this article aims to deliver; Dali’s paintings of other genres and their meaning. I’ll be adding a short analysis of that painting and the style used as well. Let’s begin.
Fiesta in Figueres – Impressionism
The first painting in this list shows a festival celebration from the eyes of Dali, using the colors derived from his emotions. The undefined shapes, use of deep, vibrant color depicting the night sky sprinkled with a contrasting yellowish orange to represent the fireworks conveys impressionism.
This painting was started in 1914 and completed in 1916. The crowd in the foreground is created using dark/muted colors, while the background is the focus of this painting. The orange/yellow and deep blue contrast is what gives this painting a visual appeal. Figueres is a place in Spain, and we’ll see in Dali’s other paintings how he has used many places in Spain as his painting’s locational setting.
Still life – Realism
Still Life is the name of not one, but many of Dali’s earlier paintings. This series of paintings belonging to the realism genre, where the paintings resemble real-life subjects as much as possible. The name is self-explanatory. The structures are well defined; the colors are kept close to natural. What’s interesting is the subjects of Dali’s Still Life paintings.
Dali took fruits and fish as the subject of the Still Life painting series. There are grapes, eggplant, fish, etc, all portraying life that has stopped. The meaning this term has is that these fruits and fishes might be considered as dead., but they aren’t dead; life is still there.
A complete cessation of life would be when these foods rot. When the fruits are rotten, and the fishes stink of death, that is when life is gone. But until then, life has just stopped, arrested, not left.
Saltimbanques – Expressionism
Perhaps one of the most eye-catching paintings of Salvadore Dali that is not a surrealistic one. Saltimbanques is a painting that shows how influential Pablo Picasso was on Dali and his art. While the picture is primarily in the expressionism genre, there’s a conflation of other styles as well.
This painting was inspired by Picasso’s 1905 painting called The Family of Saltimbanques. Saltimbanques were the acrobats who performed in circuses and were the lowest of all performers, underpaid and melancholic. Both the paintings by Picasso and Dali show the inner state of these people’s minds.
Picasso has also inspired not just the painting, but the style. The use of different shades of blue showing melancholy is taken from Picasso’s The Blind Man’s Meal. Saltimbanques shows a man with a rounded head as the subject. This rounded head resembles the rounded heads of the members of The Family of Saltimbanques.
An orange/red background filled with warmth and light shows performers getting ready for their performance. The subject takes the center of the painting with a solemn, stoic, uninterested expression; eyes narrowed with one eyebrow raised as if he saw something mildly intriguing. I think this image is an excellent homage to Picasso’s masterpiece (which is considered the most crucial painting of his career).
The Voyeur – Cloisonnism
The Voyeur is a painting that resembles the previous painting, Saltimbanques, visually. Again, here we see the duality of blue and orange, creating the beautiful contrast showing warmth and coldness.
Like the previous painting, the subject here lies languidly in terms of expression and body language, bathed in blue color while the background shows a warm scene filled with the merriment of people. The subject of the painting is a man lying on his chair, with a table nearby. A cup of coffee (perhaps), a bottle of liquor (absinthe perhaps), and a smoking pipe lie on the table.
The man is clearly in a sorry state, eyes closed with melancholy, hunched with the weight of emotional pain. Perhaps he has a disdain for himself. A voyeur is a person who derives pleasure by watching other people have sex or get naked. This desire to seek pleasure from watching other people forces him to live in isolation, in darkness.
The man sleeps near the balcony, watching the people in the other building. There are couples, single women taking their clothes off. But the man is not seeking any pleasure from it. Perhaps the realization of being alone, just to see from a distance, has hit him. Maybe he will never be in that warm orange light, always alone, always seeing, never to be seen.
Know more about other paintings
- The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is about stopping time, and a mountain
- The oxymoronic painting of Edvard Munch shows his life’s love story
Man with a Porron – Expressionism and Cloisonnism
This is another eye-catching painting that is similar to Saltimbanques painting, but the opposite. The subject here is a man, overflowing with joy and pleasure, turnt due to the mellifluous wine. The man is holding a porron, used to drink large amounts of liquor, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.
The artistic style is a unique one because Dali has used both expressionism and cloisonnism up to a certain extent. Cloisonnism is the practice of using vivid, bright colors with the elements in the painting having well-defined, thick boundaries. But this painting isn’t entirely made in cloisonnism style.
Another great thing to notice in the painting is the use of color. Notice the color of the wine and the color of the man’s body. The orange color is slowly creeping up to the man’s head. It is almost like the orange color is filling up the man, almost reaching the head. This painting shows how wrong it is just to associate Dali with surrealism. Look how great he was in other genres.
Self-Portrait with Raphaelesque Neck – Post-Impressionism
A brilliant painting made with the post-impressionism style, this painting’s brilliant use of colors with the conflation of realism and impressionism creates this unique, alluring composition that makes you keep looking at it. Show the picture of this painting to anyone and ask them who made it and I can bet that Salvadore Dali would be their last guess.
Post-Impressionism is the style led by Paul Cézanne and to make you understand this genre in the easiest way, it was making more realistic impressionistic paintings. Instead of just blobs of colors representing things, post-impressionistic painting had well-defined lines separating individual elements and more vibrant colors, not limited to the color of nature.
The painting is inspired by The Self-Portrait by Raphael made in 1506. The posture is the same as Raphael’s in his painting. But in Dali’s painting, Dali has focused a lot on the realistic aspects of the body’s anatomy. How well the muscles are shown, the creases on the skin, the details on his face. Truly a masterpiece that deserves more praise and recognition.
Fiesta in Figueres – Cloisonnism
Only the name of the painting is the same, the style and setting are very different. We are taken back to a festival in Figueres again, but this time, we see it with a different pair of eyes. Instead of being painted in impressionism style, this one’s made in cloisonnism. This painting was made in 1921.
The difference between the two paintings of festival depiction is how the colors have changed. Instead of a blue background, now we have a yellowish-orange background. So we have a scene of an evening. The interiors of the building are.
Sick boy – Pointillism
Pointillism is the method of painting using only small dots (points) of color to create the painting. Sick Boy is a clear mixture of expressionism and pointillism, but there’s more going on here. Dali has added a little bit of surrealism as well. This is a self-portrait of him in Cadaqués, the coastal town where he used to spend his summers.
While the sickness of the child can be seen from his lying position, languid and weak, looking at the viewers’ eyes, the actual sickness is far more terrifying. Take a look at his hand with long, pointed fingers. His face gives an eerie and menacing expression. It is hardly human. It almost feels like there is another creature inside the body of this kid, using the skin and face as a cover.
The parallel can be drawn from the other living thing in the painting, the caged canary. Similar to the canary, which is confined inside this cage to stay, the boy’s true self is confined inside the body. There might be some dark and sick intentions inside his mind, but that must be reined in. And the sick child lies, while it lies on the chair. And the way the boy looks, it is one of the eeriest paintings by Salvador Dali.