The Melting Watch, (also known as Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion) is an example of this surrealist movement. Created in 1954, Dali used the presence of a dreamlike quality and ghostly appearance to accentuate the mysterious and unexplainable in his painting.
Surrealism rejects logic, reason and natural order. It uses techniques such as dreamlike or ghostly qualities, juxtaposition (a method for rejecting harmony in their work) and incorporates surreal objects and subject matter. Dali uses these same techniques in his painting Soft Watch at the Moment of Explosion to intrigue his viewers and provoke thought.
In his painting, Dali assimilates shadowy outlines of objects and uses the dreamlike quality in the way the watch twists and its broken pieces unexplainably float above it. Also, the ghostly way the watch drapes over one edge of the box as if melting. The watch seems to be pulling apart and stretching. It may denote Dali's belief that time passing brings eventual destruction.
In Soft Watch at the Moment of Explosion, Dali incorporates a great deal of color juxtaposition. Most of the background consists of deep browns and gold and is contrasted by the white clock in the center of the painting. Dali's painting also displays surreal objects, although most of these are in the foreground (a moth, a fly and a bizarre clock). In the background we see a small cluster of mountains.
The Galatea of the Spheres is a marvelous portrait of Dali's wife Gala. In 1934 Dali and Gala were married in a civil ceremony in Paris and in 1958 the church permitted a Catholic ceremony (Gala's former husband died in 1952). Gala managed Dali's business affairs for their entire marriage a task to which the artist was unsuited. Dali considered Gala his world and his saviour and signed many of his works with her name.
One of the most representative works from the nuclear mysticism period. It is the outcome of a Dali impassioned by science and for the theories of the disintegration of the atom. Gala's face is made up from a discontinuous, fragmented setting, densely populated by spheres, which on the axis of the canvas takes on a prodigious three-dimensional vision and perspective.
The following quote sums this particular style of Dali's, "The surrealists saw in Dali the promise of a breakthrough of the surrealist dilemma. Many of the surrealists had broken away from the movement, feeling that direct political action had to come before any mental revolutions. Dali put forth his "Paranoic-Critical method" as an alternative to having to politically conquer the world. He felt that his own vision could be imposed on and color the world to his liking so that it became unnecessary to change it objectively." from the New York Times obituary, January 24, 1989 issue.
Presented at the Salon des Artistes Francais of 1883, The Dream depicts a sleeping man - most likely a traveler, given the bag at his side. Three airborne women approach, one with roses suggesting Love, one with a laurel wreath denoting Glory, and a third distributing coins representing Fortune. Broad planes of muted color are interrupted by stylized details such as the branches that spring from the earth. Unlike his mural cycles, made for public consumption, it is a private, non-literary, self-contained image that describes a dream.
Like the two-faced Roman god Janus, Puvis's work looks backwards and forwards at the same time. The Dream typifies this tendency. In privileging symbolism and fantasy over naturalism and reality, it recalls Romantic painting. In giving free reign to the imagination, it anticipates the wilder fantasies of the next generation. Compare this, for example, to the Sleeping Gypsy by the eccentric, self-taught Henri Rousseau, which might be seen as a reprise of this composition in reverse. Puvis actively championed and supported the next generation of younger and more radical artists who shared his desire to escape the realities of modern, industrialized society through dreams, esoteric symbolism, or mythology. They in turn were inspired by him. Puvis's effect on younger artists seeking an alternative to Realism, on the one hand, and the academy, on the other, went far beyond his efforts as a muralist.
In 1905, artist Odilon Redon created ‘The Buddha’, (known in its original language as ‘Le Bouddha’). The image is a perfect reflection of the symbolic transition from Redon’s earlier works, which vastly included plant life with human heads, to his later years, which mainly represented translucent oneness and light.
The scene depicts the Buddha next to an illuminated tree, the two main subjects in the picture, and the only two objects that are well-defined and in focus. The blue and golden hues of the sky, together with the green and yellow shades of the landscape, create a unique blend of colours at the horizon, resulting in a phantasmal setting. The entirety of the image is drawn vertically, from the long, upright limbs of the tree to the standing figure of the Buddha, including the tall, thin staff that he holds between his elongated fingers.
Some believe that the image’s symbolic message is that the path of oneness can be achieved by each and every one of us, and that Redon encourages the viewer to partake in the adventure with him. “My drawings inspire and are not to be defined. They determine nothing. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous world of the undetermined. They are a kind of metaphor.” – Odilon Redon
In response to the assumed symbolic meaning of the artwork, René Huygue shared his opinion in “Real Taking Over”: “The spectator that passes from obscurity to light is no one but each of us. Beyond his own progression, Odilon Redon invites us to become aware of a journey that can be ours. Leaving the obscurity to reach the light, commune with nature to realize the union of the inner being with the outer world, perceiving the silence... That is what the undisputable master of the Symbolist movement is suggesting within such a rich and dense work.”