A propósito del «Discurso sobre la forma cúbica» de Juan de Herrera (A Propos of the «Treatise on the Cubic Form» by Juan de Herrera)

Salvador Dalí

Figueras, Girona, Spain, 1904 - 1989
  • Date: 
    1960 (circa)
  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    59,5 x 56 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • Salvador Dalí Bequest, 1990

Since the early 1950s, Salvador Dalí had been working with the main theoretical principles set out in Speech on the Cubic Form by Juan de Herrera, a geometrician, mathematician and one of the most reputable architects in the 16th century owing to his key work in the Spanish Renaissance, the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Herrera had devised his Speech by drawing inspiration from geometry studies conducted by Ramón Llull, a Catalan thinker from medieval times who sought to link science and religion with knowledge, something that Dalí would keep in mind throughout his career. Similar to other works from this period, About the “Speech on the Cubic Form” by Juan de Herrera reveals the artist’s interest in science and its potential to open new conceptual pathways within a classical aesthetic framework. As he had done previously in works like Corpus hipercubus (Based on the treatise on cubic form by Juan de Herrera, builder of the Escorial) (c. 1954, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), the artist set out from Herrerian theories on the principles of the cube’s formation, producing the image of a cube inserted in another cubic form (a hypercube) built from letters that can be read in different directions, to increase the optical effect, and with edges that bear the name of the architect, “Juan”. The fragmentation and weightlessness of elements floating in space are characteristic of the works from the “atomic period”, along with, as José María Salvador points out in 5 Grandes de España (Five Spanish Greats, Centro Cultural Consolidado, 1992), the search for a mathematical-geometric cannon to represent the cube, which becomes a structural and conceptual paradigm.

Ruth Gallego Fernández