Atomic Leda

Salvador Dali • Painting, 1949, 61.1×45.3 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Nude, Allegorical scene
Style of art: Surrealism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1949
Size: 61.1×45.3 cm
Content 18+
Artwork in selections: 39 selections
Audio guide

Description of the artwork «Atomic Leda»

This was unexpected. The smooth, languid, sterile right Leda-Gala embraces the anatomically impeccable Swan-Zeus. Reading the classic myth of Ice is given without any strain of vision, does not require knowledge of the intricacies of the artist’s “Dalin mythology” and all the significant works of Sigmund Freud.

"Atomic Ice" was written by an artist who has always always written differently: headless female bodiesfrom which blood flows into a neat pool, afghan hound, the paw of which, upon closer examination, turns into a vase, and even more closely, into the face of the poet Lorca,soft watch and burning giraffes, elongated buttock of Leninsupported by a crutchanthropomorphic ruins andlamb ribs at Gala's shoulder, shapeless gigantic soft bodies hovering over the desert. And suddenly - a return to classicism. What happened? What caused such a sharp turnaround and was this turnaround a surrealist position?

In 1940, Dali-surrealist left for America. And in 1948 he returned to Spain, to Port Lligat, a Dali Catholic and a Dali explorer. Moreover, one does not interfere with the other. This new Dali declares that he intends to combine classicism, spirituality and quantum physics. And this does not see any contradictions.

8 years spent in America, became for Dali the time of show business. He wrote very few paintings during this time, but he took up the literature with passion: an autobiography of “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali” and even the novel “Hidden Faces” are published. And besides, Dali creates hundreds of sketches of furniture, theatrical scenery, shop windows. Scandalous fame comes to him, which quickly brings money, special secular status and privileges. The war somehow passes by him. And only atomic explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki shock Dali and occupy all his thoughts from now on. The world turned upside down for him, all the forces of his brilliant mind and unique intuition were thrown to solve a new world order, to measure with his own paranoia-critical method the size and essence of the big changes that happened to the world. Now he only thinks about the splitting of the atom and proclaims a new period in his work - "atomic-mystical". And "Atomic Leda" will be the first picture of this period.

Of course, Dali does not become realistic, although the individual elements of the picture are quite recognizable, too recognizable and understandable. And as if this is not enough - Dali uses real scientific calculations to build the composition of the picture with geometric accuracy. On it you can mentally draw a pentagram - and the central image will fit perfectly into it. But Dali uses one important effect that includes a mystical sensation and without which this plot would become just a boring magazine illustration or salon picture. Nothing comes into contact here. Leda hugs, but does not touch the swan, Leda’s legs do not touch books, the sea does not touch the shore, and as if hanging over it, even the architectural decor does not touch the pedestal on which Leda does not sit.

The latest scientific studies, which Dali carefully monitors and studies, become for him a source of a new artistic style. Antimatter, atom fission ... Here it is real mysticism.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova