Dalí and Food Imagery

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Tuesday, 2018, March 6

Dalí 's Catalonian background and culture meant that he remained obsessed with food and its imagery, his whole life

This food fetish is recalled in many of his paintings; most famously the softwatch in the form of a cheese in the 'Persistence of Memory', (1931) originating from a dream of runny French camembert.

Many of Dalí 's paintings from the early 1920's, show fruits and jugs, 'Still Life with Aubergines' ( 1922), 'Nature Morte,' ( 1922), 'Still life with Fish and Red Bowl' ( 1922).

He writes about his fascination with food in his autobiography, 'The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí : ‘When I was six, it was a sin for me to eat food of any kind in the kitchen. Going into this part of the house was one of the few things categorically forbidden me by my parents. I would stand around for hours, my mouth watering, til I saw my chance to sneak into that place of enchantment; and while the maids stood by and screamed with delight, I would snatch a piece of raw meat or broiled mushroom on which I would nearly choke but which,, to me, had the marvelous flavor, the intoxicating quality, that only fear and guilt can impart’.

 Dalí famously was quoted as saying, ' At six I wanted to be a cook, at seven, I wanted to be Napoleon..... and my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.'

 'Eggs on the Plate Without a Plate' (1932) is probably the most recognizable artwork Dalí created, that illustrates how he distorted reality using an everyday object to re-enact his dreams, the very tenant of surrealism.

 He describes in his autobiography how he came up with the idea for the painting; that he had experienced 'intra- uterine memories' whilst in the womb before birth. He recounts; 'The fried eggs on the plate without the plate which I saw before my birth were grandiose, phosphorescent, and very detailed in all the folds of their faintly bluish whites.'

Currently hanging at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg Florida, the oil on canvas has travelled worldwide, being exhibited in Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, and Madrid.

Art and the depiction of food have always been interlinked,  Paul Cezanne’s post- Impressionist renderings of apples and oranges created during the 1880s, preceded Dalí 's still life's by 40 or so years.

During the Sixteenth century, Milanese Giuseppe Arcimboldo created ‘compounded head’  portraits,  featuring vegetables fruits and flowers.

Dalí's work is rife with often repeated iconography, ranging from food imagery to fetishes, death and decay.

Interestingly, two of the 50 best restaurants in the world ( as awarded by the UK's ' Restaurant' magazine) are situated in Spain; 'El Cellear de ca Roca' in Girona and 'Mugaritz' in San Sebastian.

Worth mentioning is the cookbook, 'Les Diners de Gala', a book written by Dalí and Gala, originally published 1973, reissued by Taschen in 2016

The bronze multiple sculpture ' Space Venus' has an egg placed on the female torso, which symbolizes life renewal and the future. Dalí pays homage to the female figure in this iconic bronze sculpture.