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Elephants

Painting, 1948, 61×90 cm

Description of the artwork «Elephants»

The elephant, like the soft clock, is a recurring theme in Dali's work. For the first time, giant animals on spider legs appeared in his painting"A dream caused by a bee flying around a pomegranate a second before awakening" (1944) and then in"Temptation of Saint Anthony" (1946). Before that, the composition was written"Swans Reflecting in Elephants" (1937), where elephants were of normal proportions.

Elephants differ from these paintings in that animals against the background of a barren landscape are the main focus of the work, while other canvases contain many interesting details. Another famous image of Dali - an elephant on the legs of a stork, decorating the walls Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres.

It is not known for certain what prompted the artist to this plot. Several times he said that the obelisks on the backs of elephants correlate with the sculpture. Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, installed in Rome (there the giant also bears an ancient stele).

Dali's painting depicts two elephants on stilt legs against the backdrop of a sunset. The color scheme in saturated colors smoothly transitions from bright orange to pale yellow. Beneath this extraordinary sky stretches a desert with sandy hills in the distance, over which the wind never seems to have blown (the same landscapes can be found in"The persistence of memory" and "Meditative rose").

Two elephants are walking towards each other - their legs, it seems, can break under the weight of the burden. However, if you look closely, you will notice that the obelisks are floating in the air. In one of the animals, the trunk is raised, as if in a joyful greeting, in the second, on the contrary, it is lowered - as if he is saddened. At the feet of the giants, Dali placed two human silhouettes with elongated shadows. One of them looks like a standing man, the other looks like a woman running with her hands up. In the center between them is a sketch of a house. Despite the surreal style, the message of this picture is clear to everyone.

There are many images of elephants in world culture, and they are most often viewed as a symbol of strength, domination and power because of their size and weight. Here Dali breaks down these typical associations by placing huge animals on long, slender limbs, which he once called "the multi-joint, almost invisible legs of passion."

"Elephants" is a vivid example of a surreal work that embodies a sense of phantom reality. Animals personify the distortion of space: their fragile legs violate our sense of construction and weightlessness, opposing weight and space. Unfortunately, the picture is rarely exhibited, as it is in a private collection.
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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: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Surrealism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1948

Size: 61×90 cm

Artwork in selections: 15 selections