Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)
The greatest amongst the surrealists sublimated his life in his art of painting and strived to capture his subconscious in images.
The temptation of Saint Anthony (1946)
After the second world war, Dalí converted, by his own account, to mysticism. The beginning of the Atomic Era strongly influenced his thinking and led to a strong spiritual foundation for his paintings which he made with a great appreciation for the classic art of painting.
The temptation of Saint Anthony originated from an entry for a film poster competition. It shows Dalí’s nuclear mysticism in all its fierceness. A naked Antonius wards off an frightening mounting horse with a sword, which standing on legs as thin as gossamer, defies the laws of gravity. The Saint tries not to be seduced by the earthly temptations, symbolised by the horse as a symbol of power, followed by almost floating elephants which carry on their backs symbols of lust and greed.
Here Dalí dovetails with a classical painter’s theme, which before was used by the painters Bosch and Breugel, Dalí’s surrealistic predecessors. Dalí, though, let the frightful temptations act in an alienating world between heaven and earth. However, this “levitation” will later reappear frequently as a theme in his work.