The Face of War - Salvador Dali

The Face of War Salvador Dali

"The Face of War" was written by Salvador Dali in 1940 in California and was a kind of artist's reaction to the horrors of the Civil War, which for three years tore his native Spain in half.


Recall that Dali himself did not take any part in this fratricidal meat grinder: at the very beginning of the military events, he and his wife preferred to leave Spain, where death reigned everywhere, and lived alternately in Italy and France - until the continuing aggression of Hitler forced Salvador Dali, as well as many other people of art, flee to the American continent.

Nevertheless, as a person deeply receptive and, above all, creative, Dali was acutely aware of all the horrific events of the war, as if he lived them himself. As a result of this personal perception, this eerie canvas appeared (100 X 79 cm, oil, canvas).

Against the background of a landscape of earthy tones, reminiscent in one way or another of a grave, we see a terrifying face, or rather a skull covered with withered skin and framed by the remnants of "hair" in the form of hissing snakes.

In the openings of the eye sockets and the mouth there is one more skull, in each of which, in turn, the picture is repeated: again we see the same skulls - thus, the picture repeats itself ad infinitum.

The symbolic meaning, therefore, immediately becomes clear: war is endless death, feeding on itself. Images with a similar meaning will begin to appear in Dali's works at the very beginning of the Civil War ("Premonition of the Civil War", "Cannibalism in Autumn").

This is how Salvador Dali described his feelings and his reaction to what was happening then in Spain: “Immediately in the middle of the corpse-like body of Spain, half devoured by worms and ants of exotic and materialistic ideologies, a huge Iberian structure became visible, like a huge cathedral filled with the white dynamite of hatred.

To bury and dig up graves. Desecrate and bury! Bury in order to unearth again! This was the whole pagan desire for the civil war that engulfed the Spanish land ..." The painting "The Face of War", done by Dali in prosperous California, far from the artist's home, is another retrospective reaction of him to what happened in Spain, distant and inaccessible to him at that time.

By the way, this is the only one of all Dali's paintings where you can see the artist's handprint in the lower right corner. (Read rhe original text in Russian)

The authors of the article are Sergei Zakharov and his wife, colleague and comrad-in-arms, Tatiana - writers and tour guides. You can learn more about our books and buy them in the "Where and what to read" section. We invite you to our tours of the Dali museums in Catalonia. Revealing secrets, debunking myths, telling the truth - we promise full and deep immersion in the amazing Universe of Salvador Dali! 

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