11 best paintings by Salvador Dali

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Salvador Dali is one of the brightest, and, of course, unusual representatives of surrealism. The artist himself modestly said: 'Surrealism is me'. His legacy is significant, unique and valuable. In each of Dali's paintings there is a small note of madness, but the Spanish genius managed in an incredible way to give any of his works completeness, consistency, and sometimes incredible consistency. We have chosen, in our humble opinion, the most famous canvases of the famous author.

The genius of surrealism: the best paintings of Salvador Dali

Nomination a place name rating
Review of the best paintings by Salvador Dali 1 A dream caused by a bee flying around a pomegranate, a second before awakening, 1944 5.0
2 Crucifixion or Hypercubus, 1954 4.9
3 The face of war, 1940 4.8
4 The Persistence of Memory, 1931 4.7
5 Geopolitical baby, 1943 4.6
6 Dream, 1937 4.5
7 Soft construction with boiled beans, 1936 4.4
8 Swans reflected in elephants, 1937 4.3
9 Galatea with Spheres, 1952 4.2
10 Giraffe on fire, 1936-1937 4.1
11 Great masturbator 4.0

A dream caused by a bee flying around a pomegranate, a second before awakening, 1944

Rating: 5.0

Sleep caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate, a second before awakening

Location: Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

The famous painting by the Spanish genius depicts the permanent muse and beloved wife of the master of surrealism – Galatea. Once Salvador Dali commented on his creation, saying that his task is to show in the depicted plot a long coherent dream (according to Freud), which is actually caused by a second external influence and appears a moment before the awakening of a person.

Just as the falling of a needle on the neck of a sleeping person will awaken him from sleep and at the same time cause a long sleep ending with a guillotine, so the buzzing of a bee over Gala's ear will cause a dream shown on the canvas, which will end with an insect bite and her awakening. In the center of the picture is a portrait of the sleeping Galatea, who floats above a stone slab, washed by the sea of ​​the unconscious. There is indeed a pomegranate fruit and a bee in the room, but real images fade in front of a huge pomegranate, from which a fish erupts, spewing out from the mouths of two ferocious tigers.

In the background of the painting, Bernini's elephant is depicted with long articulated legs, carrying the attributes of the Pope on its back. There is a clear reference to the monument by the sculptor Bernini, erected in Rome in 1667 at the initiative of Pope Alexander VII. The elephant in a peculiar way symbolizes the story of Freud, who had an instant dream about the Pope's funeral, caused by the ringing of bells.

Crucifixion or Hypercubus, 1954

Rating: 4.9

Crucifixion or Hypercubus body,

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The painting of the legendary surrealist is full of various 'visions' and dreams, but there is a lot in his work and from his mind, his own thoughts. The canvas, painted in the artist's homeland after his return from the United States, is a vivid reflection of the hot religious temperament of the Spaniards – passionate, even somewhat exalted.

In the center of the canvas there is a tesseract (four-dimensional hypercube) on which Christ is crucified. The artist strove to convey a vivid contrast between the strict geometric shape and the emphatically curved body of the son of God. Thus, the feeling of his suffering increased, an incredible tension was created. Dali seemed to want to show how the calculating and cold modern world crucifies Jesus, absorbing him with his soullessness.

In the work 'The Crucifixion or Hypercubic Body' Dali continues the tradition of classical painting, when certain personalities were present in the Gospel subjects, often contemporaries of the artist who created the canvas. In this case, Dali's wife, Gala, looks at Christ. Moreover, she not only stands in front of the crucifix, but contemplates it. This means that in front of her is her vision, that which opened to her inner gaze.

The face of war, 1940

Rating: 4.8

Face of war

Location: Boijmans-van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam

Desperate after the lack of prospects for life in Europe, Dali decides to move from his beloved Paris to the New World. At that time, he still does not realize that the 8 years that he will spend there will make him world famous, and the master's works will become recognized masterpieces. The painting 'The Face of War' was created on the way to the States – Dali was shocked by the bloody tragedy that unfolded, and began painting the picture right on the ship.

The work of painting became almost the only one among the works of the master, where he abandoned the use of a complex surrealistic language and incredible combinations of numerous details, creating an understandable to everyone and therefore even more terrifying canvas. The viewer's eyes see a lifeless head, in the eye sockets and mouth of which other lifeless heads (skulls) are placed, and in them still new skulls, right up to infinity. Snakes grow from the head and bite it. The image symbolizes the unnaturalness of war, its horror, meaninglessness and destructiveness for all mankind.

The composition is made in such a way that the viewer seems to be also present in the work: this is evidenced by the handprint on the stone, as well as the image of the cave, from where a terrible picture appears to the attention of the beholder. The work used muted, perhaps even depressing shades that enhance the impression of the plot.

The Persistence of Memory, 1931

Rating: 4.7

The Persistence of Memory

Location: Museum of Modern Art, New York

This work is considered one of the most famous and discussed by art critics and the public. No other has survived so many attempts to explain the plot depicted in the picture. Dali himself claimed that the idea of ​​writing came to him at breakfast, when his wife was spreading melted cheese on toast. The main explanation of the plot is an attempt to explain the complex nature of time, its fluidity, secrets, etc. Hence the flowing hours and strict geometric forms on which they rely.

Dali collected in one composition several of his favorite symbols at once: the sea, consonant with immortality, an egg, identified with life, an olive – a symbol of wisdom and ants – decay. The painting depicts the evening: most of the landscape is already in the shade, but the hot rays of the sun still illuminate the promontory, cutting into the sea surface. The time of day here symbolizes sadness and some melancholy.

The color of the canvas is dominated by a brown scale, strengthening the atmosphere of detachment and pessimism. The artist's work looks very harmonious, easy to perceive and creates the desired effect due to the prevalence of empty space on the canvas. The diminutiveness of the canvas is another advantage of the work, testifying to the frankness and personal experiences of the author.

Geopolitical baby, 1943

Rating: 4.6

Geopolitical baby

Location: Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg

A very unusual painting, even considering that it was created by an extraordinary artist. Its solution lies in the date of creation. Dali painted the canvas in the midst of the war, when the whole world was groaning with blood and pain. But the Spaniard, with a subtle intuition, already foresaw a new beginning, born in the throes of the old society. Humanity was stuffy and cramped within the existing framework. Therefore, it was eager for a new era, sought to remove the existing fetters, to achieve happiness and peace.

The baby is watching the birth of a new society, he is scared, he hides at his mother's feet, but at the same time boldly directs his gaze. Half a century later, this child will rule the new world. Humanity continuously destroys itself, and then reborn again and then destroys again: this process goes on indefinitely. This is the mystery of human nature.

The plot is dominated by yellow tones, creating anxiety and giving the canvas a more complex atmosphere. Any birth gives a sense of hope, but the future is rather uncertain. Only a drop of blood reminds us that the process of rebirth is painful and full of suffering.

Dream, 1937

Rating: 4.5

Dream, 1937

Location: Private collection

The painting is considered one of the best and most successful in the collection of the Spanish surrealist. The image transferred to the canvas was very important for Dali, since it very subtly showed the paranoid fantasies of a genius. In the center of the plot is an image of a soft head, devoid of a body, which rests on supports – a kind of crutches. The dreamer, which this head represents, needs props to preserve facial features.

The props symbolize the fragility of reality: even the dog depicted modestly sitting in the left corner needs such 'support', otherwise it will simply fall to the ground. The background of the picture is made in blue tones, which enhances the feeling of distance from the rational world.

The artist himself described the image as a pupated monster, whose mental anguish and forms are propped up with crutches. It is enough just one lip to touch the pillow or little finger – with a soft sheet, and sleep will swallow up entirely. The painting is an outstanding representative of the cycle of works 'Paranoia and War'. It was written on Cape Creus, the easternmost point of mainland Spain. The Catalans consider it a place of true magical power and inspiration. It was there that Dali was looking for, in his words, the real, material basis of dreams. '

Soft construction with boiled beans, 1936

Rating: 4.4

Soft construction with boiled beans

Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art

The gloomy painting was painted by a Spanish artist just months before the start of the civil war in his home country. According to Dali himself, he created this iconic canvas, guided by the “prophetic power of his subconscious.” The picture clearly reflects his concern, even fear is a prediction of the future horrors of war.

In the center of the composition – the image of two strange bodies, reminiscent of the combination of their terrible hands and feet, the outlines of Spain. This is a symbol of a terrible fight, from which no one will emerge victorious, regardless of the side. The humanoid creature, monstrous to a shiver, symbolizes a war no less monstrous in its cruelty and horror.

Despite the slightly absurd, morbidly fantastic image, the picture turned out to be quite realistic. The boiled beans present on the canvas and in its name, perhaps, are a symbolic representation of the stew that the poor people of Spain ate during that difficult period for the country. The 'Soft Construction with Boiled Beans' is considered the perfect example of the successful embodiment of the surreal image. This is one of the artist's greatest masterpieces, in which he perfectly conveys the enormity of war.

Swans reflected in elephants, 1937

Rating: 4.3

Swans reflected in elephants

Location: Private collection

Each reflection in painting is, in fact, the antipode of the original image. Often it looks distorted, opposite in meaning. It's like access to another, parallel world. The fantasies of Salvador Dali are mesmerizing, they are incredibly deep and intricate, they make the viewer's subconscious decipher the images and symbols reflected on the canvas.

A fantastic creature standing on the shore, as if admiring itself, seeing the resemblance to swans and elephants at the same time. The composition resembles an unusual phantom that appears out of nowhere behind the back. It is like a series of images from the subconscious that suddenly materialize in the real world.

In the picture, one can feel the tension that is created by dry trees, fire slowly creeping to the water edge, an almost transparent moon. What happens if the person turns around? Most likely, the images will disappear. Elephants and swans on canvas represent opposites that cannot live without each other. Like good and evil – they only make sense in pairs. And the person depicted in the picture is completely calm: he lives by reality, and his fantasies quietly slumber, without interfering with him.

Galatea with Spheres, 1952

Rating: 4.2

Galatea with spheres

Location: Dalí Theater-Museum, Figueres

After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the power of nuclear weapons was revealed to the world. Salvador Dali was inspired by the power of nuclear physics, and in the same period his faith was strengthened: he again began to show an interest in Catholicism. This is how the period of 'nuclear mysticism' began in the artist's work: the idea of ​​rationalizing religion with the help of the achievements of science was clearly traced in his works.

Realizing that matter is represented by a set of atoms, the artist created his works in the form of a set of atomic elements. The canvas 'Galatea with spheres' is one of the most impressive of the cycle. Here is the wife and permanent muse of genius – Gala. Her face is composed of many spheres – nuclear particles, which together create an incredible three-dimensional visual effect.

The combination of colors and their incredible contrast give a significant volume to all the elements of the picture. Galatea looks like a mini-universe: so alive and, at the same time, amazingly cosmic. Galatea is considered the most famous painting in the series of nuclear mysticism.

Giraffe on fire, 1936-1937

Rating: 4.1

Giraffe on fire

Location: Art Museum, Basel

This painting is often seen as the personal feelings of Salvador Dali from the civil war taking place in his home country, as well as an expression of the artist's attitude to this brutal act. In the center of the plot are two female figures with outgrowths on their backs and many drawers protruding from the leg of the nearest figure. Since Dali was a big fan of the psychologist and neuroscientist Sigmund Freud, open boxes can be attributed to Freudian psychoanalysis, where such an object can symbolize the human subconscious.

The outstretched arms of the figures are trying to find at least some support. The skin has already been partially torn off from the hands and bloody flesh appears terribly. A giraffe is seen in the distance, engulfed in flames. He doesn't seem to feel it, doesn't notice. The artist himself interpreted the image of a live giraffe in the background of the canvas as a 'male space apocalyptic monster'. For him it was a premonition of war.

The whole picture does not create any clarity or clarity of perception. One can feel the disintegration of the figures into separate fragments, the twilight crushes with the deepening darkness. In general, the canvas evokes anxious forebodings, a sense of tragedy, the approach of something terrible. Against the background of huge symbolic figures, the small white man, depicted wandering in the distance, seems lost, going nowhere, not seeing the warning signals.

Great masturbator

Rating: 4.0

Great masturbator

Location: Reina Sofia Center for the Arts, Madrid

A surrealist is a special type of artist who often embodies even the most intimate thoughts and desires in the form of various subjects on canvas. And Salvador Dali is no exception. The Spanish master of the brush often managed to shock the audience with the secrets of his subconscious and the painting “The Great Masturbator” is one of such works. The psychological trauma received by Dali in childhood forever turned him away from sex and became the main motive of the canvas.

Several of the author's favorite motives can be traced in the work at once: a rock next to Carcades, turned into a huge head, an egg symbolizing life itself, ants as a symbol of decay and locusts (or grasshopper) – a terrible horror for the artist himself. Gala, the muse of the great genius of surrealism, is also present in the picture.

The main idea of ​​the author was the idea that sex is inseparable from suffering: sex as suffering, suffering as sex. Throughout his life, Dali was never able to get rid of a psychological problem: he always remembered the horror that he experienced in childhood when he saw pictures in a medical album dedicated to venereal diseases. Due to this psychological trauma, Dali subsequently always experienced physical discomfort during sex. Even love for his wife and constant creative emancipation did not save him from the problem.

The picture can be considered the embodiment of the mystery of the human psyche. And until the end of his life, Dali did not want to give the created canvas to anyone: it was always in front of his eyes, forcing him to think about thoughts hidden from consciousness. 'The Great Masturbator' – eroticism on the verge of indecency, which made the canvas a more intimate art.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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