I run into some of the damnedest things, and in a book which arrived in the mail today (Dali's The Tragic Myth of Millet's Angelus) I found this:
THE BLACKHEADS OF SPACEWith words of encouragement like that, I began my search for appropriate artwork, and by some cosmic process I really can't explain, I soon found -- here -- a comedone which seemed to have burst forth from the hyper-paranoid imagination of Dali -- whether the authors knew it or not!
Do not stupidly shrug your shoulders, those of my readers who consider the extraction of the blackheads in question a matter requiring little talent. Understand that this apparent ultra-prosaic cleaning is nothing other than the ultra-concrete personalization of that which is most vital and lyrical in contemporary scientific and artistic moral thought. Think, if not about this soft actuality, then about that super-gelatinous, nutritive modern style of compressibility about which Dali is speaking to you. Indefatigably, he is instructing you with the precise apparatus of the paranoiac-critical method in his hand every time the occasion presents itself.
Not only are the colors Dalinian, but if you look closely, you'll see that the "skin" is made from two very Dalinian crutches, pressing inward against the comedone. Normally, we think of crutches as aids, as devices used to support lame of injured people to keep them from falling. It would be just like Dali to use his famous crutches to hold in a comedone!
No, seriously. In 1933, for example, ("The Enigma of William Tell") Dali even used one of his crutches to hold up Vladimir Lenin's elongated butt cheek:
So why not a comedone?
No, I am not making a moral comparison between Lenin and blackheads. The above painting got Dali in plenty of trouble as it offended Andre Breton and the Surrealists (who were mostly Marxists), and led to Dali being expelled from the group. He was accused of favoring Hitler, which was a preposterous charge, but a typical one for Marxists to make. (Anyone who attacks Lenin must love Hitler, right?)
From Robert Descharnes' account of Dali's "trial":
I saw Hitler as a masochist obsessed with the idee fixe of starting a war and losing it in heroic style. In a word, he was preparing for one of those actes gratuits which were then highly approved of by our group. My persistence in seeing the mystique of Hitler from a Surrealist point of view and my obstinacy in trying to endow the sadistic element in Surrealism with a religious meaning (both exacerbated by my method of paranoiac-critical analysis, which threatened to destroy automatism and its inherent narcissism) led to a number of wrangles and occasional rows with Breton and his friends. The latter, incidentally, began to waver between the boss and me in a way that alarmed him."Even today, Dali is criticized by leftists for disrespecting Lenin, and for insufficiently disrespecting Hitler.
In fact they had long gone beyond mere dispute. Contrary to Dali's wishes, the Surrealists remained devoted to Breton, their iron-fisted leader whose every order had to be obeyed. When required to appear before the group, Dali showed up with a thermometer in his mouth, claiming he felt ill. He was supposedly suffering from a bout of 'flu, and was well wrapped up in a pullover and scarf. While Breton reeled off his accusations, Dali kept checking his temperature. When it was his turn for a counter-attack, he began to remove his clothing article by article. To the accompaniment of this striptease, he read out an address he had composed previously, in which he urged his friends to understand that his obsession with Hitler was strictly paranoiac and at heart apolitical, and that he could not be a Nazi "because if Hitler were ever to conquer Europe, he would do away with hysterics of my kind, as had already happened in Germany, where they were treated as Entartete (degenerates). In any case, the effeminate and manifestly crackpot part I had cast Hitler in would suffice for the Nazis to damn me as an iconoclast. Similarly, my increased fanaticism, which had been heightened by Hitler's chasing Freud and Linste in out of Germany, showed that Hitler interested me purely as a locus tor my own mania and because he struck me as having an unequalled diaster value. " Was it his fault if he dreamt about Hitler or Millet's Angelus? When Dali came to the passage where he announced, "In my opinion, Hitler has four testicles and six foreskins," Breton shouted: "Are you going to keep getting on our nerves much longer with your Hitler!" And Dali, to general amusement, replied: "... if I dream tonight that you and I are making love, I shall paint our best positions in the greatest of detail first thing in the morning." Breton froze and, pipe clenched between his teeth, murmured angrily: "I wouldn't advise it, my friend." It was a confrontation that once again pointed up the two men's rivalry and power struggle. Which of them was going to come out on top?
Following his confrontation, Dali was given a short-lived reprieve, but then notified of his expulsion. "Since Dali had repeatedly been guilty of counter-revolutionary activity involving the celebration of fascism under Hitler, the undersigned propose ... that he be considered a fascist element and excluded from the Surrealist movement and opposed with all possible means."
The irony is that Rockefeller crutches propped up the modernism which Dali was trying to undermine:
After the war, Dali became the number one enemy of the North American art establishment thanks to his constant attacks on modernism. The irony is that Picasso, who belonged to the Communist Party, was loved by the American Art Establishment, while Dali, who had begun as a Communist sympathizer ended up expelled from the Surrealist Movement at the suspicion that he was a fascist sympathizer. The painter had painted "The Enigma of Hitler" in 1937 with a small print of Hitler's face on a dish with some beans. He explained that he wanted to understand the phenomena of fascism and besides, he had a dream that compel him to represent it.Here's an early example (from 1931) of a double image, Dali's "Le surrealisme au service de la revolution":
Most modern artists are progressive and have leftist leanings. By the 50's the Rockefeller forces and the artistic communist forces united against any art that said something because the anti-Stalinist American left did not want any representational art to back Soviet Stalinism. In one of history's greatest ironies the American left backed Rockefeller, one of the world's greatest capitalist and robber barons, in the establishment of modernism as THE only art, banishing any art that resembles classicism from the walls of established art circles, with the exception of pop art and photographic realism, which emphasize the glories of North American production and assembly line.
The greater glories of understanding the mind were put aside by the American and world modernist establishment. Dali's work has been dismissed with the accusation that he was a fascist. But the real war was against his style of thought-provoking, mystical classical work and the science of painting to which Dali contributed to all his life. Modern critics never understood that Dali's use of the double, triple and quintuple image in his canvasses are not just "optical trickery" as they dismissed it for, they are important additions to the science of art.
(I didn't want to rotate it to the right, so you'll have to tilt your head to the left.)
What if Dali meant it, and the Marxists didn't?
What happens when modern is not modern, and revolution is not revolution?
(The contents can be hard to express.)