The Spectre of Sex-Appeal - Salvador Dali

Spectre de Sexappeal - Salvador Dali

The Spectre of Sex-Appeal is one more painting, without which it is impossible to imagine the Theater-Museum of Salvdor Dali in Figueres. No doubt, without it the exposition will be incomplete. The Spectre of Sex-Appeal was painted by Salvador Dali in 1934, (the most fruitful year for the artist). The painting continues the glorious tradition of Dali as a miniaturist, masterly wielding a brush - and clearly enjoying his skills.


Nowadays "The Spectre of Sex-Appeal" is exhibited in the Hall of Treasures of our Theater-Museum, and I honestly admit that when it is taken from the exposition for some reason, I get upset as if this painting belongs to me personally - this masterpiece of a still very young Dali is so good!

This is one more painting , the true dimensions of which, if you saw it in reproduction, you will never guess. Many meticulously written elements, as in the case of "Portrait of Gala with two lamb chops in equilibrium upon her shoulder", will inevitably suggest that this is a full-scale, or at least medium-sized, work - and again we will be mistaken. The true dimensions of the painting are 17.9 X 13.9 cm - and not a single millimitre more!

Both of the above-mentioned masterpieces are generally very similar - both in the technique of execution, and in miniature sizes, and in the abundance of sun and light, as well as in the fact that both are made in oil on wood panel.

Again, the boy with the hoop is well-known to us, and so is the scenery, the same remote edge of the Catalan world -  Cadaques, Port Lligat, Cape Creus - blessed and native Dali's places, about which Salvador spoke from the very childhood with delight and ecstasy, the places where he lived and painted most of his life.

This is how Dali himself described his work: "An instant color photograph made by hand from the subconscious, surreal, extravagant, paranoid, hallucinatory, extra-artistic, phenomenal, numerous, subtle and other images ... of Concrete Irrationality."

It is interesting that the monster of sexuality, which does not really exist, yet generated by the consciousness of a boy (Salvador Dali), is depicted in such a realistic manner that it seems more "real" than objective reality itself - which gives rise to an amazing surreal effect.

As for the "reality" - it is well-known and praised by Dali in many canvases: these are the rocks of Cape Creus, which throughout his life served as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the artist.

Cape Creus is a place so important in Dali's work that it deserves a slightly more detailed story. This is the easternmost point of Catalonia, Spain, and at the same time - the entire Iberian Peninsula. It is located just a few kilometers from Dalí's house in Port Lligat, where the artist lived most of his life - but, having traveled these “several kilometers”, it seems that you are transported to another planet.

Such were our first impressions of visiting Cape Creus once - and the same is experienced by tourists who find themselves here. Mars, Venus, whatever - but certainly not Catalonia and not our planet - so unearthly are the landscapes of this end of the world.

Here, according to Salvador Dali, the Pyrenees in wild geological delirium rush into the Mediterranean Sea. All the power and beauty of this "overthrow" can be appreciated even by a person who is far from art - and for Salvador Dali it was Cape Creus that once became the main source of inspiration for him.

Here is a quote from The "Secret Life of Salvador Dali":


“When I finished painting, we made an exception to the rule and went with the fishermen to fry sardines and chops in the cliffs of Creus Bay - where the Pyrenees end. On these rocks, after long contemplation and reflection, was born "the morphological aesthetics of soft and hard", all emerged from the Mediterranean Gothic of Gaudí.

Cape Creus - Salvador Dali

Is it possible to believe that Gaudí, like me, saw in his youth these rocks that influenced me so much? In this, for me, the principle of paronoal metamorphosis materialized, which I have already mentioned several times in this book. All the images suggested by the rocks change as you advance or retreat. It was not me who invented this, but the fishermen have long blessed these capes, bays and rocks with a variety of names: camel, spider, sparrow, dead woman, lion's head.

- Look, Mr. Salvador, now instead of a camel there is, one might say, a rooster.


A crest appeared on the camel's head, a beak was formed from the elongated lower lip. Rocks endlessly changed their "appearance". In this eternal disguise, I discovered a deep sense of the shyness of Nature, which Heraclitus expressed in a mysterious formulation: "Nature loves to hide." Observing the moving forms of motionless rocks, I "pondered over the rocks of my own thoughts."

barcelona tour guides sergei and tatiana

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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