Discovering Salvador Dalí, revered as one of the most influential artists from Spain, is an exciting task. Having promoted and lived the surrealist movement from his home in the Costa Brava and the Emporda Region, his influence on the culture of the area cannot be denied.
But what really sets Dalí apart from other surrealists? Every surrealist artist rejects rationality in art and can “channel the unconscious to unlock the power of imagination”, but few have been able to incentivize personalized interpretations as well as Dalí. In his works, Dalí utilizes a variety of symbols that may be interpreted in various ways. When a person sees a snail shell, it can represent something slow, strong, dirty, or something beautiful. With all his works, Dalí incorporates a sense of ambiguity for viewers to find their own interpretations. Dalí never provided any definite answers to what he meant when he created each piece, but there never has to be. Below are listed several of the recurring symbols our expert tour guides have discovered from their almost-daily visits to the authentic Spanish art found in Dalí’s home and museum.
Here are Some Examples
The characteristics and symbolism found in Dalí’s works set them apart, but they can be easily overlooked if not considered with an analytical eye. To help you better enjoy and fully appreciate the complexity of Dalí’s works our knowledgeable guides have compiled a short list of some of the recurring symbols he has used. Please note that these interpretations, while widely agreed upon by our team and other Dalí experts, are in no way concrete. Before his death, Dalí was known to add to the confusion of his work by approving an interpretation of a piece, then turning around and agreeing with a completely different understanding of the same piece! Many pieces and symbols found on our day trip remain hotly debated topics and should not be taken as a definite fact.
Dalí Melting Clocks
One of Dalí’s most famous symbols, the presence of melting clocks in his works can represent the omnipotent presence and influence that time has over all things.
Dalí depicts elephants in an unusual way: he envisions them with long, thin legs that would be unable to support the structures placed on their backs. Some have likened this with ideas of weightlessness and strength.
Loaves of bread
Dalí seems to utilize grains and bread to emphasize the abundance of certain ideas, whether an abundance of ideas, emotions, or physical objects.
Wet suits of divers
Within the realm of surrealism, diving into the deeper meanings of the subconscious are meant to be unraveled. Dalí’s use of wet suits in his work seems to symbolize this journey.
Might See in the Dali Museum!
Here are some examples, see if you can spot some of the symbols listed above:
Just a short trip away from Barcelona, you can explore and experience firsthand Dalí’s house, his castle, and the museum he designed with one of our experienced guides! Each location is filled to the brim with examples of his eccentric genius and art. In every place he stayed he molded the space to his tastes. By visiting any of these three locations, you can take a walk through time and discover firsthand how important some of these symbols seemed to be for Dalí.
Drawers coming out of the body
Instead of hiding feelings and emotions within the mind and heart, Dali seems to represent the hidden compartments within the minds of people as drawers that open out of the bodies of people.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the presence of eggs can symbolize the ideas of birth and reproduction. Dalí’s home is covered in various sized eggs ranging from the average size to two ton concrete models.
It’s always up for interpretation
In the vast world that is art, it is a monumental undertaking for a person to set themselves apart and establish a style that is completely their own. Dalí’s use of symbolism sets him apart by telling stories that must be analyzed, that prompt discussion, and offer complex ideas about many controversial topics. Many of the pieces Dalí created hold deeper meanings that are better understood through the use of symbols. On our tours, our guides will offer historical information about Dalí and his works, but will leave the interpretations of the pieces to you!
On the other hand, in Dalí’s own words he may have just been “playing around” with images and there is no real deeper meaning to his works. The essence of the surrealist movement is the interpretation of the world through the subconscious mind. When viewing Dalí’s works, there is no singular correct interpretation. We hope that this article has introduced you to a number of recurring and significant symbols in Dalí’s vast repertoire that may help guide your ideas towards what many have agreed upon, but that is never to say your interpretation is less correct than those of others. That is the genius of Dalí.
Dali’s crutches appear in many of his works and provide a sense of physical and emotional support to the characters in his works. The crutches support the fantastical ideas and aspirations of his subconscious mind and are integrated in many of his physical works.
If you are interested in seeing more of Dalí’s works in person, feel free to check out our Dalí Museum & Medieval Girona Day Trip for a visit to the Dalí Museum or go to the beautiful Cadaqués on the Costa Brava to see where Dalí worked and what locations inspired many of his piece on our Surreal Cadaqués & All Things Dalí Day Trip.