The Supposed Sexual Meaning of a Flower

Zantedeschia albomaculata, from L’Illustration Horticole v.7 (1860), by Charles Antoine Lemaire (1801-1871), and Ambroise Verschaffelt (1825-1886)

 

Zantedeschia is a genus of eight species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi. The genus has been introduced on all continents except Antarctica. Common names include arum lily for Z. aethiopica, calla, and calla lily for Z. elliottiana and Z. rehmannii although it is neither a true lily (Liliaceae), nor an Arum or a Calla (related genera in Araceae). The colourful flowers and leaves are highly valued, and both species and cultivars are widely used as ornamental plants.

The name of the calla lily is not only just a common name that never is used professionally, it is also totally misinformative since the calla lily is neither a calla nor a lily. Once it was considered to be a calla and the discoverer, famous Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, actually categorized all similar plants under the calla genus. When further testing proved that not all callas were not closely related enough to be considered as one genus it was split up by the German botanist Karl Koch and the calla lily genus became known as the zantedeschia genus. The name of the genus was given as a tribute to Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi (1773–1846) by the German botanist Kurt Sprengel (1766–1833).

Zantedeschia is monoecious in which separate male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers (imperfect or unisexual flowers) are carried on the spadix. The flowers are small and non-blooming with an absent perianth. The male flowers contain two to three stamens fused to form a synandrium, and the female flowers have a single compound pistil with three fused carpels and three locules. Zantedeschia shares the general properties of the Araceae family in causing contact irritation. Zantedeschia species are also poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in the form of raphides.

It is not really clear when this genus showed up in Europe, but based on an illustration from the Royal Garden in Paris in 1664, it is safe to say that it was grown in Europe at that time. Zantedeschia became a very popular flower after that, showing up at funerals, weddings and practically any festivity in Europe. It was especially popular since it could be made to bloom all year around in the southern to centre parts of Europe using simple greenhouses. It was a flower that could be grown even when the sky seemed dark.

Zantedeschia or Calla lily is a very beautiful flower. During the flower language boom in the Victorian period of the 19th century, there were strict social codes and if one had to express ones feelings, flowers were the best medium. Flowers delivered the feelings subtly and every part of gifting a flower, carried secret flower meanings. The person who made the offer to the way the flowers were arranged, all had a specific meaning. Thus passionate messages were delivered to the recipient, without the use of words through flowers. During this time, calla lily was used to express many such hidden symbols. Calla lily due to its physical resemblance to female genitalia was called an overtly sexual one. This sexual calla lily meaning was brought forward to admirers by Sigmund Freud and  it was the favorite subject of artists like Diego Rivera and Georgia O’Keeffe.

 

Callas, Imogen Cunningham, 1925

 

Two Callas, Imogen Cunningham, c. 1926

 

Black and White Lilies, Imogen Cunningham, 1928

 

Calla Lily with Roses,Georgia O’Keeffe, 1926

 

White Calla Lilly, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1927

 

Two Calla Lilies on Pink, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1928

 

Caricature of Georgia O’Keeffe as “The Lady of the Lily”, Miguel Covarrubias, 1929

 

The Great Masturbator, Salvador Dalí, (1929)

 

Flower Vendor (Girl with Lilies), Diego Rivera, 1941

 

Portrait of Natasha Gelman, Diego Rivera, 1943

 

Nude with Calla Lillies, Diego Rivera, 1944

 

The Flower Carrier, Diego Rivera, 1953

 

Prehistory of Desire, Marc Quinn, 2010

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The Face of Contemporary Art

Kate, Sir Peter Blake, 2013

 

Model by Allen Jones, 2013. With a whiff of art nouveau, it pays homage to her love of a vintage frock

 

Body Armour , Allen Jones, 2013

‘Photography has replaced the artist’s eye in the depiction of reality. For most people Kate exists as a photograph. It is harder to draw somebody than to take their photograph. Painting Kate was a challenge in my world, but first I wanted to prove myself in her world — the world of professional photography.’

Allen Jones

 

Porcelain Kate on white background, Nick Knight, 2013.
Moss and Knight have collaborated often – but this is the photographer turning his muse into something 3D, a sculpture. Still, Moss is an angel here so reality is still a long way off

 

Kate Jacquard Tapestry by Chuck Close, 2007.
Close, a famously meticulous artist, turns Kate into a tapestry. All about a stripped back and natural Moss, this is a reprise – in thread – of Close’s 2003 daguerreotype portrait of her

 

A gold statue of supermodel Kate Moss entitled Siren by British artist Marc Quinn, circa 2008

 

Sphinx (Road to Enlightenment), Marc Quinn, 2007

 

Eyescape, Rankin, 2012

 

Naked Portrait, Lucian Freud, 2002

 

Kate, Gary Hume, 1996

 

One of the world’s best-known faces, Kate Moss has long been a favorite of Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, Juergen Teller and a legion of top fashion photographers. But her latest incarnation as a gleaming goddess provides new confirmation that she’s equally as popular with artists.

In fact, the world’s most enduring super-model has probably been portrayed more often than anyone in recent history, and an ever-growing body of art testifies to the true cultural icon she’s become.

The emergence of BritArt, which started to make its presence felt when Kate was already an international star, was certainly a major factor. Moss hung out with Damien Hirst, became pals with Tracey Emin, and at one point was said to be romantically involved with Jake Chapman. Painter Gary Hume famously portrayed Kate in 1996, and it wasn’t long before others followed suit.

In September 2003, W Magazine commissioned leading American art stars to produce their own take on Kate.

Hideous Man

Hideous Man. Directed by John Malkovich, costumes designed by Bella Freud. AW 2002. Running Time – 22:40

 
 

Hideous Man is written and directed by John Malkovich and produced by Bella Freud. It is their third short film collaboration and is shot on 35mm black and white film. It tells the story of a group of beatnik girls rehearsing their work in preparation for a performance for their alter ego – the Hideous Man. Starring Peaches, Saffron Burrows, Anita Pallenberg, Shaznay Lewis, Camilla Rutherford, Skin, Arielle Dombasle and Emilia Fox.

 
 

To watch the short film, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

Like a Band T-Shirt

«I made a short film with John Malkovich called Hideous Man about Beatnik girls waiting around at a club for their favourite poet to arrive for a reading. I wanted the leader of the group to wear a jumper showing her devotion to literature and art, a bit like a band t-shirt. I was throwing out names with my assistant, and “Ginsberg is God” tripped lightly off the tongue. ‘But what about Godard is Dog, I mean God?’ she said. Godard is Dog is what is written on the back of the jumper. Pure Merino wool sweater with intarsia “Ginsberg is God “on the front and “Godard is Dog” in the back.»

Bella Freud

 
 

Arielle Dombasle wearing Bella Freud’s jumper

Death to Van Gogh’s Ear

Emilia Fox, Arielle Dombasle and Annabel Brooks in Hideous Man (John Malkovich, 2002). Dresses by Bella Freud. Shoes by Christian Louboutin

 
 

Poet is Priest
Money has reckoned the soul of America
Congress broken thru the precipice of Eternity
the president built a War machine which will vomit and rear Russia out of Kansas
The American Century betrayed by a mad Senate which no longer sleeps with its wife.
Franco has murdered Lorca the fairy son of Whitman
just as Mayakovsky committed suicide to avoid Russia
Hart Crane distinguished Platonist committed suicide to cave in the wrong
America
just as Million tons of human wheat were burned in secret caverns under the White House
While India starved and screamed and ate mad dogs full of rain
and mountains of eggs were reduced to white powder in the halls of Congress
no Godfearing man will walk there again because of the stink of the rotten eggs of America
and the Indians of Chiapas continue to gnaw their vitaminless tortillas
aborigines of Australia perhaps gibber in the eggless wilderness
and I rarely have an egg for breakfast tho my work requires infinite eggs to come to birth in Eternity
eggs should be eaten or given to their mothers
and the grief of the countless chickens of America is expressed in the screaming of her comedians over the radio
Detroit has built a million automobiles of rubber trees and phantoms
but I walk, I walk, and the Orient walks with me, and all Africa walks
And sooner or later North America will walk
Einstein alive was mocked for his heavenly politics
Bertrand Russell driven from New York for getting laid
immortal Chaplin driven form our shores with a rose in his teeth
a secret conspiracy by Catholic Church in the lavatories of
Congress has denied contraceptives to the unceasing masses of India.
Nobody publishes a word that is not the cowardly robot ravings of a depraved mentality
The day of the publication of true literature of the American
body will be day of Revolution
the revolution of the sexy lamb
the only bloodless revolution that gives away corn
poor Genet will illuminate the harvesters of Ohio
Marijuana is a benevolent narcotic but J. Edgar Hoover prefers his deathly Scotch
And the heroin of Lao-Tze & the Sixth Patriarch is punished by the electric chair
but the poor sick junkies have nowhere to lay their heads
fiends in our government have invented a cold-turkey cure for
addiction as obsolete as the Defense Early Warning Radar System.
I am the defense early warning radar system
I see nothing but bombs
I am not interested in preventing Asia from being Asia
and the governments of Russia and Asia will rise and fall but
Asia and Russia will not fall
The government of America also will fall but how can America fall
I doubt if anyone will ever fall anymore except governments
fortunately all the governments will fall
the only ones which won’t fall are the good ones
and the good ones don’t yet exist
But they have no being existing they exist in my poems
they exist in the death of the Russian and American governments
they exist in the death of Hart Crane & Mayakovsky
now is the time of prophecy without death as a consequence
the universe will ultimately disappear
Hollywood will not rot on the windmills of Eternity
Hollywood whose movies stick in the throat of God
Yes Hollywood will get what it deserves
Time
Seepage of nerve-gas over the radio
History will make this poem prophetic and its awful silliness a hideous spiritual music
I have the moan of doves and the feather of ecstasy
Man cannot long endure the hunger of the cannibal abstract
War is abstract
the world will be destroyed
Monument to Socco & Vanzetti not yet financed to ennoble Boston
Vachel Lindsay Secretary of Interior
Poe Secretary of Imagination
Pound Secty. Economics
and Kra belongs to Kra, and Pukti to Pukti
crossfertilization of Blok and Artaud
Van Gogh’s ear on the currency
no more propaganda for monsters
and poets should stay out of politics or become monsters
I have become monstrous with politics
the Russian poet undoubtedly monstrous in his secret notebook
Tibet should be left alone
these are obvious prophecies
America will be destroyed
Russian poets will struggle with Russia
Whitman warned against this “Fabled Damned of nations”
Where was Theodore Roosevelt when he sent out ultimatums from his castle in Camden
Where was the House of Representatives when Crane read aloud from his Prophetic Books
What was Wall Street scheming when Lindsay announced the doom of money
Where they listening to my ravings in the locker rooms of
Bricksford Employment Offices?
Did they bend their ears to the moans of my soul when I struggled
with market research statistics in the Forum of Rome?
No they were fighting in their fiery offices , on the carpets of
heart failure, screaming and Bargaining with Destiny
fighting the Skeleton with sabers, muskets, buck-teeth,
indigestion, bombs of larceny, whoredom, rockets, and pederasty,
back to the wall to build up their wives and apartments, lawns,
suburbs,
fairydoms,
Puerto Ricans crowded for massacre on 114th St. for the sake of an
imitation Chinese-Moderne refrigerator
Elephants of mercy murdered for the sake of the Elizabethan birdcage
millions of agitated fanatics in the bughouse for the sake of the screaming
soprano of industry
Money-chant of soapers – toothpaste apes in television sets – deodorizers on hypnotic chairs –
petroleum mongers in Texas – jet plane streaks among the clouds –
sky writers liars in the face of Divinity–fanged butchers of hats and shoes,
all Owners! Owners! Owners! with obsession on property and vanished Selfhood!
and their long editorials on the fence of the screaming negro attacked by
ants crawled out of the front page!
Machinery of a mass electrical dream! A war-creating whore of Babylon
bellowing over Capitols and Academies!
Money! Money! Money! shrieking mad celestial money of illusion!
Money made of nothing, starvation, suicide! Money of failure! Money of death!
Money against Eternity! and eternity’s strong mills grind out vast paper of
Illusion!

Allen Ginsberg

The Intervention of the Gods

Kate Moss wearing “Ginsberg is God” jumper by Bella Freud

 
 

“Rémonin. —… Il disparaîtra au moment
nécessaire; les dieux interviendront.
Mme. de Rumières. — Comme dans les
tragédies antiques?”
Acte ii, sc i.
“Mme. de Rumières. — Qu’y a-t-il?
Rémonin. — Les dieux sont arrivés.”
Acte v, sc x.

A. Dumas fils : L’Etrangère

 
 

Now this, then that, may happen, and in such wise;
and later — two years hence, as I surmise —
the actions may be these, and these the ways.
We will not meditate on far-off days.
We for the best will strive. And always more
defective, more perplexing than before,
shall all things fare; until, as in a mist,
we stray bewildered. Then we shall desist.
For in that helpless hour the gods attend.
They always come, the gods. They will descend
from their machines, and straightway liberate
some and as suddenly exterminate
others; and having reformed us, they will go. —
And afterward, one will act so; and so
another; and in time the rest will do
as they needs must. And we shall start anew.

Constantine P. Cavafy

Vinoanalysis

Illustration by Jiří Slíva

 
 

Sensory analysis (also referred to as organoleptic analysis) is a scientific discipline that applies principles of experimental design and statistical analysis to the use of human senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) for the purposes of evaluating consumer products.

There are five basic steps in tasting wine: color, swirl, smell, taste, and savor. These are also known as the “five S” steps: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor. During this process, a taster must look for clarity, varietal character, integration, expressiveness, complexity, and connectedness.

The results of the four recognized stages to wine tasting:
appearance
“in glass” the aroma of the wine
“in mouth” sensations
“finish” (aftertaste)

– are combined in order to establish the following properties of a wine:
complexity and character
potential (suitability for aging or drinking)
possible faults

Creative Optic

Illustration by Jiří Slíva

 
 

First row: А. П. Че́хов (Anton Chekhov); J.R.R. Tolkien; Franz Kafka; Betty MacDonald (misspelled McDonald)

Second row: Jack Kerouac; Marcel Proust; Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; R. Kipling

Third row: Marcel Duchamp; Stendhal; Karl May; Karl Marx

Fourth row: Magritte; S. Freud; Louis Pasteur; Günter Grass

Fifth row: Salvador Dalí; E.M. Remarque; Jaroslav Hašek; Isaac B. Singer

Enthralled by Psychoanalytic Theory

“Please — consider me a dream.”
Franz Kafka

 
 

Illustration by Jiří Slíva

 
 

A Dream is a short story by Franz Kafka. In the short piece, the narrator describes a dream, where Joseph K. is walking through a cemetery. There are tombstones around him, and the setting is the typical misty and dim atmosphere. Soon he sees someone carving out a name on a stone, and as he approaches he soon notices it is his own name.
Kafka was known to be enthralled by psychoanalytic theory primarily due to his fascination with dreams. As we already know, one of his most famous stories, The Metamorphosis, starts with the main character waking from a dream. He felt there was great power, both creatively and emotionally, with dreams. The story is also an example of the theme of mortality, lack of power among the living, and the struggle to stay alive while aware of one’s impending death.

 
 

“Josef K. was dreaming:It was a beautiful day and K. wanted to go on a walk. But no sooner had he taken a few steps than he was already at the graveyard.Its paths were highly artificial, impractical in their windings, yet he glided along such a path as if hovering unshakably over raging water. From far away, he spotted a freshly dug burial mound at which he wanted to halt. This burial mound exerted an almost enticing effect on him, and he felt he could not get there fast enough. At times, however, he could barely glimpse the mound, it was covered with flags that twisted and flapped powerfully against one another; the flag bearers could not be seen,but there appeared to be great rejoicing.While his eyes were still riveted in the distance, he abruptly saw the burial mound next to the path – indeed almost behind him by now. He hastily leaped into the grass. Since the path continued rushing along beneath his feet as he leaped off, he staggered and fell to his knees right in front of the mound. Two men were standing behind the grave,holding a headstone between them in the air; the moment K. showed up, they thrust the stone into the earth, and it stood there as if cemented to the ground. Instantly,a third man emerged from the bushes, and K. promptly identified him as an artist. He was wearing only trousers and a misbuttoned shirt; a velvet cap was on his head; in his hand, he clutched an ordinary pencil, drawing figures in the air even as he approached.He now applied this pencil to the top end of the stone;the stone was very high, he did not even have to lean down, but he did have to bend forward,since he did not wish to step on the burial mound, which separated him from the stone. So he stood on tiptoe, steadying himself by propping his left hand against the surface of the stone. Through some extremely skillful manipulation, he succeeded in producing gold letters with that ordinary pencil; he wrote: “Here LIES—” Each letter came out clean and beautiful,deeply incised and in purest gold. After writing words, he looked back at K.; K., who was very eager to see what would come next in the inscription, gazed at the stone, paying little heed to the man. And in fact, the man was about to continue writing, but he could not, something was hindering him, he lowered the pencil and turned to K.again. This time,K. looked back at the artist, who, he noticed, was very embarrassed but unable to indicate the reason for his embarrassment. All his earlier liveliness had vanished. As a result, K. likewise felt embarrassed; they exchanged helpless glances; there was some kind of misunderstanding between them, which neither of them could clear up. To make matters worse, a small chime began tinkling inopportunely from the tomb chapel,but the artist waved his raised hand wildly, and the chime stopped.After a brief pause,it started in again; this time very softly and then promptly breaking off with no special admonition from him; it was as if it merely wanted to test its own sound. K. was inconsolable about the artist’s dilemma, he began to cry, sobbing into his cupped hands for a long time. The artist waited for K. to calm down, and then, finding no other solution, he decided to keep writing all the same. His first small stroke was a deliverance for K., but the artist obviously managed to execute it only with utmost reluctance;moreover, the penmanship was not as lovely — above all,it seemed to lack gold, the stroke moved along pale and unsteady, only the letter became very large. It was a J, it was almost completed; but now the artist furiously stamped one foot into the burial mound, making the dark soil fly up all around. At last, K. understood him; there was no time left to apologize;with all his fingers he dug into the earth, which offered scant resistance;everything seemed prepared; a thin crust of earth had been set up purely for show; right beneath it a huge hole with sheer sides gaped open, and K.,flipped over on his back by a gently current, sank into the hole. But while, with his head still erect on his neck, he was welcomed down below by the impenetrable depth, his name, with tremendous embellishments, rushed across the stone up above.Enraptured by this sight, he woke up.”

Portrait of One of the Jewish Geniuses

Franz Kafka, from Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century, Andy Warhol, 1980

 
 

In October 1980, an exhibit featuring portraits of “famous Jews” opened at the Jewish Museum in New York; in June of the following year, a scaled-down version of the show had its “West Coast Premiere” at the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California. Entitled Andy Warhol: Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century, the exhibit featured silk-screen prints and acrylic paintings — the Berkeley museum showed only the serigraphs — based largely on known photographs of a variety of Jewish figures no longer alive. In 1979, reviewers disliked his exhibits of portraits of 1970s personalities and celebrities, calling them superficial, facile and commercial, with no depth or indication of the significance of the subjects. They also criticized his 1980 exhibit of 10 portraits at the Jewish Museum in New York, which Warhol —who was uninterested in Judaism and Jews— had described in his diary as “They’re going to sell.” In hindsight, however, some critics have come to view Warhol’s superficiality and commerciality as “the most brilliant mirror of our times,” contending that “Warhol had captured something irresistible about the zeitgeist of American culture in the 1970s.”

Andy Warhol became fascinated with a group of influential Jewish figures – a pantheon of great thinkers, politicians, performers, musicians and writers including French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923); the first Jewish judge of the United States Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941); renowned philosopher and educator Martin Buber (1878-1965); the theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein (1897-1955), widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the twentieth century; the hugely influential founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939); vaudeville, stage and film comedians, the Marx Brothers: Chico (1887-1961), Groucho (1890-1977), and Harpo (1888-1964); Israel fourth Prime Minister and one of the founders of the State of Israel, Golda Meir (1898-1978); distinguished American composer George Gershwin (1898-1937); the eminent novelist, Franz Kafka (1883-1924); and avant-garde American writer, poet and playwright Gertrude Stein (1874-1946). The collective achievements of this group changed the course of the twentieth century and may be said to have influenced every aspect of human experience.

For the most part, Warhol’s standard techniques of cropping photographs, outlining faces and figures, and overlaying collage-like blocks of color onto them seem to have little specific connection with the particular character or significance of either the portraits or the represented figures. The multicolored, fragmented surfaces Warhol applied in the 1960s and 1970s to portraits of celebrities in the world of entertainment and politics usually complemented or enhanced the poses and public images of those represented — think of his portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, Mao Tse-tung, or Richard Nixon.

With the possible exception of the Marx Brothers, the “famous Jews” display none of the star quality of many of Warhol’s other portraits; yet the cliché seems to rule in a similarly superficial, commercialized effort to lend the portraits a veneer of flamboyance or “modern” hip. In a rather quirky review of the New York exhibit, Carrie Rickey found in the paintings of Jews “an unexpected mix of cultural anthropology, portraiture, celebration of celebrity, and study of intelligentsia,” but she also observes that “Warhol had recast their visages to make them fit his pop iconology.” Roberta Bernstein, who has a fine critical appreciation of Warhol’s artistic abilities, notes in a discussion of his printmaking that, though his talent as portraitist functioned primarily to reveal only the surface and therefore was “entirely suitable for his portraits of glamorous celebrities and socialites, its appropriateness for historical figures of the type in this portfolio [of the ten twentieth-century Jews] is questionable,” and, she adds, his “unique ability to make insightful selections is not as apparent here as it is in other works.”

Strife of Love in a Dream

“Pourquoi me réveiller, ô souffle du printemps?
Sur mon front je sens tes caresses.
Et pourtant bien proche est le temps
Des orages et des tristesses.
Demain, dans le vallon,
Se souvenant de ma gloire premiere,
Et ses yeux vainement chercheront ma splendeur:
Ils ne trouveront plus que deuil et que misere!
Helas! Pourquoi me reveiller, o souffle du printemps?

(Why do you wake me now, o sweetest breath of spring ?
On my brow I sense your most gentle caress,
Yet how soon creeps on time
Filled with tempests and with distress!
Tomorrow through the vale, the traveler will pass,
Recalling all of the glory of the past.
And in vain he will search for the bloom of my youth,
And nothing will he find but deep pain and endless sorrow.
Alas! Why do you wake me now, o sweetest breath of spring?!)

Werther
Act III

Opera by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, based on the German epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

 
 

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944)

 
 

In this “hand-painted dream photograph” — as Salvador Dalí generally called his paintings — we find a seascape of distant horizons and calm waters, perhaps Port Lligat, amidst which Gala is the subject of the scene. Next to the naked body of the sleeping woman, which levitates above a flat rock that floats above the sea, Dalí depicts two suspended droplets of water and a pomegranate, a Christian symbol of fertility and resurrection. Above the pomegranate flies a bee, an insect that traditionally symbolizes the Virgin.

In the upper left of the painting a fish bursts out of the pomegranate, and in turn spews out a tiger who then spews out another tiger and a rifle with a bayonet that will sting Gala in the arm. Above them an elephant with long flamingo legs, found in other compositions of the period such as Dalí’s The Temptations of St. Anthony, carries on its back an obelisk.

The elephant is a distorted version of the “Pulcino della Minerva” sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini facing the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The smaller pomegranate floating between two droplets of water may symbolize Venus, especially because of the heart-shaped shadow it casts. It may also be used as a Christian symbol of fertility and resurrection. This female symbolism may contrast with the phallic symbolism of the threatening creatures.

 
 

The Pulcino della Minerva, the famous elephant sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Ercole Ferrata, making the base of one of Rome’s eleven Egyptian obelisks

 
 

The inspiration for the unusual composition came from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (“Poliphilo’s Dream of the Strife of Love“), an unusual 15th century novel probably by Italian Dominic priest and monk Francesco Colonna. Scholars have also attributed the book to Leon Battista Alberti, and earlier, to Lorenzo de Medici. The novel’s main character meets an elephant made of stone carrying an obelisk, and the accompanying woodcut illustration in the book is quite similar to Bernini’s design for the base for the obelisk. The curious placement of the obelisk through the body of the elephant is identical.

 
 

The bayonet, as a symbol of the stinging bee, may thus represent the woman’s abrupt awakening from her otherwise peaceful dream. This is an example of Sigmund Freud’s influence on surrealist art and Dalí’s attempts to explore the world of dreams in a dreamscape.

The bee around the smaller pomegranate is repeated symbolically. The two tigers represent the body of the bee (yellow with black stripes) and the bayonet its stinger. The fish may represent the bee’s eyes, because of similarity of the fish’s scaly skin with the scaly complex eyes of bees.

In 1962, Dalí said his painting was intended “to express for the first time in images Freud’s discovery of the typical dream with a lengthy narrative, the consequence of the instantaneousness of a chance event which causes the sleeper to wake up. Thus, as a bar might fall on the neck of a sleeping person, causing them to wake up and for a long dream to end with the guillotine blade falling on them, the noise of the bee here provokes the sensation of the sting which will awaken Gala.” The guillotine anecdote refers to a dream reported by Alfred Maury in Le sommeil et les rêves and related by Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams.

It has also been suggested that the painting is “a surrealist interpretation of the Theory of Evolution”.

Lifelong Muse

Salvador Dalí painting The Madonna of Port Lligat, 1949

 
 

In August 1929, Dalí met his lifelong and primary muse, inspiration, and future wife Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. She was a Russian immigrant ten years his senior, who at that time was married to surrealist poet Paul Éluard.

A mysterious and highly intuitive woman, she was able to recognise artistic and creative genius when she saw it, and had relations with a number of intellectuals and artists.

The truth is nevertheless that very little is known about this personality: she had two older brothers, Vadim and Nicolai, and a younger sister, Lidia; she spent her childhood in Moscow, and her father died when she was eleven years old. Her mother remarried later to a lawyer, with whom Gala related very well and thanks to whom she managed to acquire a good education. She was a brilliant student, completing her studies at the M.G. Brukhonenko academy for young ladies with a very high average mark; a decree from the tsar authorised her to become a primary school teacher and to give lessons in people’s homes. In 1912 she suffered a worsening of the tuberculosis that had afflicted her for some time, and her family decided to have her cared for at the Clavadel sanatorium in Switzerland, where she met Eugène Grindel (later to be known as Paul Eluard). Their similar ages and love of reading led the two to become firm friends. Both were discharged from the sanatorium in 1914. Gala returned to Russia and Eluard went to the war front, though not before the couple had proposed to each other. They married in 1917, and the following year saw the birth of the girl who was to be Gala’s only daughter, Cécile. Eluard, who had already been revealed as poet and had changed his surname, related with the leading figures of the surrealist movement, and particularly the creators of the Littérature magazine: André Breton, Philippe Soupault and Louis Aragon. Gala also attended some of their meetings. In 1922 she started a relationship with Max Ernst, which broke off in 1924. Max Ernst painted her in a number of portraits. Also worthy of note was her friendship with the poet René Char, and particularly with René Crevel.

It was in 1929 that she met Salvador Dalí. In April of that year Dalí went to Paris to present the film that he had made with Luis Buñuel, Un chien andalou, and it was there that Camille Goemans, a Belgian poet and gallery owner, introduced Dalí to Paul Eluard. Dalí invited them to spend the summer in Cadaqués. Goemans and a friend of his, as well as René Magritte and his wife, and Luis Buñuel, Paul Eluard and Gala, and the couple’s daughter Cécile, all spent some time there.

It is during this visit that Dalí falls in love with Gala. She considers him to be a genius. According to The Secret Life, Dalí’s autobiography, “She wanted something-something which would be the fulfillment of her own myth. And this thing that she wanted was something that she was beginning to think perhaps only I could give her.”

The courtship continues among the rocks and groves of Cadaqués to the end of September. On a particular walk along the surrounding precipices, Dalí asks Gala what she wants from him-she replies, “I want you to kill me.” This “secret,” Dalí claims, cures him of his madness. The laughing fits and hysteria he was experiencing prior to her arrival cease.

When the painter met Gala he fell in love with her. In his Secret Life, he wrote: “She was destined to be my Gradiva (the name comes from the title of a novel by W. Jensen, the main character of which was Sigmund Freud; Gradiva was the book’s heroine and it was she who brought about the protagonist’s psychological healing), the one who moves forward, my victory, my wife”. And Gala was indeed to remain ever thereafter at the painter’s side, so that from that time on her biography was linked with that of Dalí.

In 1948 Dalí and Gala returned from the United States following eight years of exile there. Dalí had achieved recognition in his own country, and his father had come to accept his son’s relationship with a separated Russian woman. From that time onwards, the Dalís would spend the spring and summer in Portlligat and the autumn and winter between New York and Paris.

In 1958 Dalí and Gala married at the Àngels chapel, near Girona. In 1968 the painter bought Gala a castle in Púbol, Girona, and it was agreed that the painter could not go there without her prior permission in writing to do so. Between 1971 and 1980, Gala would spend periods of time at her castle, always in summer. It was there that Gala was buried, following her death in 1982. Since 1996 the castle has been open to the public as the Gala-Dalí Castle House Museum in Púbol.

 
 

Galarina, (1944-45)

 
 

My Wife, Naked Looking at her own Body,which is Transformed into Steps, Three Vertebrae of a Column, Sky and Architecture (1945)

 
 

Three Faces Of Gala On The Rocks, (1945)

 
 

Atomic Leda (1949)

 
 

The Madonna of Port Lligat (1949)

 
 

Galatea of the Spheres (1952)

 
 

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (1959)

 
 

Ecumenical Council (1960)

 
 

Dali from the Back Painting Gala from the Back Eternalized by Six Virtual Corneas Provisionally Reflected (1972-73)

 
 

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Eighteen Metres Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln -Homage to Rotkho- (1976)

 
 

Dali Lifting the Skin of the Mediterranean Sea to Show Gala the Birth of Venus (1977)

Suppressed Human Emotions

Stills from Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)

 
 

Federico García Lorca crowded his thoughts onto a sheet of stationery from a Barcelona cafe. “I want to weep,” he wrote to Salvador Dalí. “I’ve behaved like an indecent donkey’s ass with you, you who are the best thing in the world for me. As the minutes go by I see it clearly and I am truly sorry. But this only increases my affection for you and my attachment to your way of thinking and your human quality.” Lorca avoided saying more about what had taken place between the two men.

The friendship with Lorca had a strong element of mutual passion, but Dalí rejected the erotic advances of the poet. With the success of Gypsy Ballads, came an estrangement from Dalí and the breakdown of a love affair with sculptor Emilio Soriano Aladrén. These brought on an increasing depression to Lorca, a situation exacerbated by his anguish over his homosexuality. He felt he was trapped between the persona of the successful author, which he was forced to maintain in public, and the tortured, authentic self, which he could only acknowledge in private. He also had the sense that he was being pigeon-holed as a “gypsy poet”. He wrote: “The gypsies are a theme. And nothing more. I could just as well be a poet of sewing needles or hydraulic landscapes. Besides, this gypsyism gives me the appearance of an uncultured, ignorant and primitive poet that you know very well I’m not. I don’t want to be typecast”. Growing estrangement between García Lorca and his closest friends reached its climax when surrealists Dalí and Luis Buñuel collaborated on their film Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog). García Lorca interpreted it, perhaps erroneously, as a vicious attack upon himself. At this time Dalí also met his future wife Gala. Aware of these problems (though not perhaps of their causes), García Lorca’s family arranged for him to take a lengthy visit to the United States in 1929–30.

 
 

 
 

Un Chien Andalou is a 1929 silent surrealist short film by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. It was Buñuel’s first film and was initially released in 1929 with a limited showing at Studio des Ursulines in Paris, but became popular and ran for eight months. The film has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial “once upon a time” to “eight years later” without the events or characters changing very much. It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes. The film was financed by Buñuel’s mother, and shot in Le Havre and Paris at the Billancourt studios over a period of 10 days in March 1928.

The film has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial “once upon a time” to “eight years later” without the events or characters changing very much. It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes.

The film opens with a title card reading “Once upon a time”. A middle-aged man (Luis Buñuel) sharpens his razor at his balcony door and tests the razor on his thumb. He then opens the door, and idly fingers the razor while gazing at the moon, about to be engulfed by a thin cloud, from his balcony.

 
 

There is a cut to a close-up of a young woman (Simone Mareuil) being held by the man as she calmly stares straight ahead. Another cut occurs to the moon being overcome by the cloud as the man slits the woman’s eye with the razor, and the vitreous humour spills out from it.

 
 

The shot of the eyeball (actually that of a dead calf) being slit by Buñuel

 
 

The subsequent title card reads “eight years later”. A slim young man (Pierre Batcheff) bicycles down a calm urban street wearing what appears to be a nun’s habit and a striped box with a strap around his neck. A cut occurs to the young woman from the first scene, who has been reading in a sparingly furnished upstairs apartment. She hears the young man approaching on his bicycle and casts aside the book she was reading (revealing a reproduction of Vermeer’s The Lacemaker). She goes to the window and sees the young man lying on the curb, his bicycle on the ground. She emerges from the building and attempts to revive the young man.

 
 

An image from Dalí’s dream, part of the inspiration for the film

 
 

The idea for the film began when Buñuel was working as an assistant director for Jean Epstein in France. Buñuel told Dalí at a restaurant one day about a dream in which a cloud sliced the moon in half “like a razor blade slicing through an eye”. Dalí responded that he’d dreamed about a hand crawling with ants. Excitedly, Buñuel declared: “There’s the film, let’s go and make it.'” They were fascinated by what the psyche could create, and decided to write a script based on the concept of suppressed human emotions.

 
 

Jaime Miravilles and Salvador Dalí as the confused priests

 
 

In deliberate contrast to the approach taken by Jean Epstein and his peers, which was to never leave anything in their work to chance, with every aesthetic decision having a rational explanation and fitting clearly into the whole,  Buñuel made clear throughout his writings that, between Dalí and himself, the only rule for the writing of the script was: “No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.” He also stated: “Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.”

 
 

 
 

Over the course of his long career Dalí associated his work with a wide range of predecessors (including Paul Cézanne, Le Corbusier, Giorgio de Chirico, Arnold Böcklin, and later Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci), but none of them came close to rivaling Johannes Vermeer. Throughout his life Dalí remained entirely unwavering in his belief that Vermeer was the greatest painter who ever lived and the artist whom he most dearly wished to emulate.

The first screening of Un Chien Andalou took place at Studio des Ursulines, with an audience of le tout-Paris. Notable attendees of the première included Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau, Christian Bérard and George Auric, in addition to the entirety of André Breton‘s Surrealist group. The audience’s positive reception of the film amazed Buñuel, who was relieved that no violence ensued. Dalí, on the contrary, was reportedly disappointed, feeling the audience’s reaction made the evening “less exciting.” Buñuel since claimed that prior to the show, he had put stones in his pockets “to throw at the audience in case of disaster”, although others had no recollection of this.

 
 

A death’s-head moth

 
 

Against his hopes and expectations, the film was a huge success amongst the French bourgeoisie, leading Buñuel to exclaim in exasperation, “What can I do about the people who adore all that is new, even when it goes against their deepest convictions, or about the insincere, corrupt press, and the inane herd that saw beauty or poetry in something which was basically no more than a desperate impassioned call for murder?”

Modern prints of the film feature a soundtrack consisting of excerpts from Richard Wagner‘s “Liebestod” from his opera Tristan und Isolde and a recording of two Argentinian tangos sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Olé guapa.” This is the same soundtrack that Buñuel chose and played live on a phonograph during the original 1929 screening in Paris. They were first added to a print of the film in 1960 under Buñuel’s supervision.

Film scholar Ken Dancyger has argued that Un Chien Andalou might be the genesis of the filmmaking style present in the modern music video. Roger Ebert had called it the inspiration for low budget independent films.

The Artistic Side of Death

View of a Skull, Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1489

 
 

Saint Francis in Meditation, Caravaggio, 1605

 
 

Skull, Albrecht Dürer, 1521

 
 

La Calavera Catrina (Dapper Skeleton or Elegant Skull), José Guadalupe Posada, 1910-1913.

Much memento mori art is associated with the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, including skull-shaped candies and bread loaves adorned with bread “bones.”

 
 

Self-portrait With Death Playing the Fiddle, Arnold Böcklin, 1872

 
 

Engraving by M.C. Escher, 1919

 
 

Untitled-Death Outside the Head-Paul Eluard, Salvador Dalí, 1933

 
 

Head with Broken Pot, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1942

 
 

Sin esperanza (Without Hope), Frida Kahlo, 1945

 
 

Detail of Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central, Diego Rivera, 1946-1947

 
 

Three Study Portraits of Lucian Freud, by Francis Bacon

 
 

Artwork by Sergio Toppi

 
 

Drawings by Edward Gorey

 
 

Knowledge of the Past Is the Key to the Future: Some Afterthoughts on Discovery, Robert Colescott, 1986

 
 

Riding with Death, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1988

 
 

Black Kites, Gabriel Orozco, 1997

 
 

For the Love of God, Damien Hirst, 1997

 
 

The Orientalist, Walton Ford, 1999

 
 

Painting by Pascal Vilcollet

 
 

Confetti Death, Typoe, 2010