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Salvador Dali. (1904 - 1989). Swans Reflecting Elephants. (1937). 

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Salvador Dali. (1904 - 1989). Swans Reflecting Elephants. (1937). 

This painting is emblematic of the period that Dali names: “ Paranoiac-critical ”. It is an good example of the double images which Dali used much. In its book of 1935 
“ the conquest of irrational l” It explains its process like a “ spontaneous method of irrational comprehension based on interpretative critical association of the delirious phenomena. ” The double images are visual illusions. They should be understood like the awakening of the deformation which obligatorily narcissism induces. Narcissus in Greek mythology then Roman is an young man of a great beauty fallen in love with his own image. Become adolescent, Narcissus, whose beauty is bright, pushes back the women systematically seeking insulation in the forests. It is there that it meets one day the nymph Echo, passionately in love with him. Whereas it leaves a coppice the arms tended towards him, he rejects it and flees. Echo, despaired, disappears in wood and the mountains and is let there decay, until it remains of it only its voice. The other nymphs complain at Nemesis, goddess of divine Revenge, the attitude scornful of the young man. One day that Narcissus drives out in wood, this one pushes it with going to be refreshed in a fountain where he sees his reflection which he takes for that of another. Fascinated by this face, Narcissus cannot detach the eyes of them any more; not managing to obtain the love of this being which it cannot be itself, it is let die on the spot… Here the double image is in the lake, the trees become the bodies of the elephants. The background is a Catalan landscape the relief of cliffs contrasts with the calm one of the water of the lake. 

The point of view of the spectator is relatively high. On the level of the medium of the trees and top of cliffs.
The swans and their reflections are on the lower tension field. Between 2 natural points of interest. The top of the trees and the sky are on the higher tension field them also between 2 natural points of interest. The composition is rigorous.
The painting is divided into 3 zones, the higher third is reserved for the sky, the third lower than water and the reflections, between these 2 spaces, the ground. The tension fields are used like limits.
The line of reflection is perfectly visible. The painting is an opposition between horizontal lines and verticals.

Details : 
The reflection is perfect. The swan, animal gracious and voluptuous becomes by the play of the reflection a heavy animal and without grace. Exactly its opposite.
This city perched on the mountain refers to the View of Toledo of Gréco. Dali knows him perfectly. Click to see the analysis.
This character is a reference to the Narcissus of mythology, in love with his own reflection and which ends up becoming a flower.
Light : The light comes from the sky and the background which is very luminous.
Colors : Contrasts between cold and hot colors. Contrasts between complementary.
Similar Paintings :
Salvador Dali : The Metamorphosis of Narcissus. (1937).
Salvador Dali : Ballerina in a Death's head. (1939).
Salvador Dali : The Three Sphinxes of Bikini. (1947).