Uranium and Atomica Melancholica Idyll

Salvador Dalí

Figueras, Girona, Spain, 1904 - 1989

Salvador Dalí’s desire to “see things differently” – appealing to the subconscious, to memory, to the irrational content of dreams, in order to go beyond the vision of the human eye – is the basis of his Paranoid-Critical Method, which represents a new way of interpreting reality and his main contribution to Surrealism. His interest in subjects related to vision entails in-depth knowledge of the history of art, of the scientific advances of his time and of the new studies on the human psyche. In seeking to unearth the real, Dalí develops exceptional imagery in his visual work, a catalogue of which provides a frame of reference for the study of Surrealism. At the same time, his use of double images and the search for hidden images which characterise his Surrealist experimentation are persistent aspects of his work during the 1940s, when Dalí moved to the United States, where he lived between 1940 and 1948. The dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945 shocked Dalí, who depicted the bombings in many of his landscapes from that year, including Idilio atómico y uránico melancólico (Atomic and Uranic Melancholic Idyll, 1945). In this work, Dalí uses his characteristic figurative style inhabited by soft shapes, represented within a black image whose hollows illuminate another reality outside that which is identified by the aeroplane, explosion and bombs. Beginning in the late 1940s, Dalí’s work moves into a new mystical/nuclear phase, in which he makes a number of works that depict the disintegration of the atom in paintings with religious subject matter.