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Christ Of St. John Of The Cross

Painting, 1952, 205×116 cm
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Description of the artwork «Christ Of St. John Of The Cross»

"Christ of St. John of the Cross" - the most famous religious painting by Salvador Dali, and perhaps the most famous icon of the 20th century. It depicts Jesus on a cross in a dark sky, hanging over a pond and a boat with fishermen. Although it is an image of a crucifixion, there is no blood or crown of thorns on it. According to Dali, in a dream he was convinced that these attributes would spoil his composition. “Perhaps because of the Spanish proverb 'not enough Christ, too much blood',” he admitted.

Inspiration, as the artist asserted, also appeared to him in a vision: “in 1950 I saw a“ cosmic dream ”in which this painting appeared in color to me and which in my dream was the“ nucleus of an atom ”. This core then acquired a metaphysical meaning, and I considered it as the main component of the Universe - Christ! "

The composition is based on a drawing by a 16th century Carmelite monk, St. John of the Cross. Around 1574 - 1577, while praying, he saw the crucified Jesus from above, "as if from the point of view of God." The drawing he created was kept in the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila, where Dali saw him at the instruction of another Carmelite, Father Bruno. “I have developed a geometric triangle and a circle, in which all my previous experiences are 'aesthetically' summarized, and inscribed my drawing of Christ in this triangle,” the artist explained.

For the figure of Christ, the Hollywood stuntman and gymnast Russell Saunders posed. Dali hung it from a special frame in his studio to see how the body looks at the right angle and how gravity affects it. Subsequently, the athlete said that the artist was very scrupulous and accurate in conveying all the details.

“I didn't even know who Dali was at the time,” Saunders recalled in 1984. - I worked for Warner Bros. and completed several tasks of a man with a cane and a waxed mustache. I was paid $ 35 a day for posing. "

Dali said that when he was finishing the painting in the late fall of 1951, it was so cold in his house in Port Lligat that Gala urgently decided to install central heating. He recalled what horror he experienced then, worried about the canvas on which the paint had not yet dried - and the workers raised clouds of dust. “We moved him from the studio to the bedroom so that I could continue writing. The surface was covered with a white sheet so that nothing could touch the surface of the oil. I said that I would hardly be able to recreate my Christ if something happened to him. In ten days the central heating was installed and I was able to finish the painting, ”the artist shared.

The painting itself and the intellectual property rights were acquired in 1952 by the Glasgow Museums. The organization paid 8,200 pounds sterling, which was then a substantial amount. Over time, copyrights have repaid museums' initial cost many times over. However, the purchase sparked controversy at the time - opponents believed the money was worth spending on exhibition space for local artists.

In 1961, a visitor to the Kelvingrove Museum threw a stone at the painting and then tore the canvas with his hands. It took several months to restore the work, after which it was again put on public display. In 2006, "Christ of St. John of the Cross" was named the most favorite painting of the Scots, gaining 29% of the vote in the poll. In May 2013, British poet John Cooper Clarke said that this depiction is fundamentally different from any other crucifixion, as the angle of view conveys all the pain of this method of execution, but at the same time obscures the "cliché" facial expressions commonly found in such works.
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About the artwork

This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Surrealism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1952

Size: 205×116 cm

Artwork in selections: 28 selections