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Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening

Salvador Dali • Painting, 1944, 51×40.5 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait, Animalism, Allegorical scene
Style of art: Surrealism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1944
Size: 51×40.5 cm
Content 18+
Artwork in collection: The Thyssen Bornemisza Yana Sasina
Artwork in selections: 84 selections
Exhibitions history

Description of the artwork «Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening»

The mysterious world of dreams has always attracted people of art. In their attempts to transfer the fleeting vision of phantasmagoric subjects to canvas, the artists of different epochs created whimsical paintings - some of them remind children's cartoons, and some of them can even be frightening to the viewer. The great Spaniard famous for his surrealist works, Salvador Dalí did not stay aside. Our art portal offers you the description of Dali's "Dream..." (full title is " Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening").

Dali, Freud and symbolism

"Dream..." of Salvador Dali is based on the works of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud where he investigates the phenomenon of long meaningful dream. Freud described it as a dream, whose plot is caused by some stimulus from the outside: the subconscious of a sleeping person identifies this stimulus and turns it into the images having similarities with the source of the stimulation. If the stimulus bears certain threat in reality, then in a dream it will take a threatening form that will provoke the awakening.

In this painting by Dali we see the dream caused by the flight of a bee — like we are both an observer and a dreamer. In the lower part of the canvas there is a sleeping nude woman hovering above the stone slab, which is similar in form to some continent. The slab is surrounded by the blue space, which many researchers of Dali oeuvre interpret as a symbol of the subconscious.

We can assume that, before going to sleep, the woman was holding a grenade, in her dream it is floating, attracting with its scent a sweet tooth bee. The woman can hear the bee humming in her dream. The subconscious signals that the insect can be dangerous, and the brain reacts by creating yellow and black images of the tigers that match the colors of the insect. One animal jumps out of the mouth of another, who arises from the open mouth of the fish emerging from a huge pomegranate that hangs over the sleeping nude. Sharp claws and teeth symbolize the fear of the sting of an insect, so does a rifle, whose bayonet is about to thrust into the woman's hand. To protect herself from the sting the sleeping woman must wake up.

Salvador Dali often depicted whimsical elephants with long thin legs, and the 'Dream..." painting was not an exception. This subject fits here not only because of its unusual appearance. It is also called the Bernini elephant — on behalf of the Italian sculptor of the seventeenth century who created the sculpture, which depicts the elephant with an Egyptian obelisk on his back. Art historians believe that Bernini actually got this idea from an old novel, which described various dreams of the main character. In one of the dreams there appears the image of an elephant pierced by the obelisk. The elephant in Dali`s painting is an allusion to this novel and to Freud's theory of dreams as well.

Today Dali's "Dream..." painted by the great surrealist in 1944, is kept in the Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid, Spain).