During the period between World War I and World War II, many people decided that rationale had created the destruction left behind from the war and that it was time to rely on the subconscious as a way to analyze the world. These people became known as Surrealists. One of the most famous surrealist artists was Salvador Dal'i. Dal'i's piece The Temptation of Saint Anthony is a prime example of Surrealism. Surrealist paintings are described as dreamlike and fantastical. Much of Dal'i's paintings were images he had dreamed up.
He said that he would paint what almost seem like photographs from his dreams. Dal'i took Sigmund Freud's idea that dreams are symbolic. Objects can symbolize something as well as take on a pun on the word. Much of the objects in Dal'i's paintings symbolize sexual desires that are expressed in dreams because society condemns them. The Temptation of Saint Anthony has many symbols including sexual symbols that make it dreamlike.
Surrealism is expressed in the absurd objects that are dreamlike yet have an explicit meaning. In the bottom corner of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony is seen trying to ward off the temptations the horse and the elephants bring. These physical temptations symbolize the mental temptations Saint Anthony dealt with. The horse, leading, symbolizes strength and sensual desires / pleasures . Following the horse is the elephant that brings the Cup of Desire and a naked woman.
The gold cup and woman represent sexual desires as well as riches. The next three elephants carrying a tower and temple represent morality and religion. However, The woman inside the temple and the gold on the outside show that the temple is corrupt. The last elephant carries another tower that symbolizes a phallic figure. It is said that the long legs of horse and elephants symbolize levitation and nearness to heaven. However, the thinness of the legs could also symbolize weak legs holding up the elephants and horse, weakly holding up the resistance to temptation.
The woman on the Cup of Desire and inside the temple are said to be reincarnated devils. Dal'i's surrealist The Temptation of Saint Anthony combines ideas and images that are not possible in the physical world. Looking at the painting, the objects would make no sense. However, if interpreted like people often interpret dreams, The Temptation of Saint Anthony shows the story of the devil luring Saint Anthony. Because these images are only possible in the subconscious, they are considered surrealist.
Works Cited Forbs, Jill and Michael Kelly. French Cultural Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Harden, Mark.
"Salvador Dal'i." Mark Harden's Archive. < web >. Kobylinski, Pawel. "The Temptation of Saint Anthony." The Salvador Dal'i's Gallery. < web >. (This is the reproduction of The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1946) ).
N'ere t, Gilles. Dal'i. New York: Barnes & Nobles Books, 2000." Gallery - Salvador Dal'i - The Temptation of Saint Anthony." Horse Click. < web >." Permanent Collection - Dal'i Museum." Salvador Dal'i Museum, Inc. 2000.
< web >.