Salvador Dalí, Surrealism’s most publicized practitioner, created monstrous visions of a world turned inside out, which he made even more compelling through his extraordinary technical skills. When the Art Institute acquired Inventions of the Monsters in 1943, the artist wrote his congratulations and explained:
"According to Nostradamus the apparition of monsters presages the outbreak of war. The canvas was painted in the Semmering mountains near Vienna a few months before the Anschluss [the 1938 political union of Austria and Germany] and has a prophetic character. Horse women equal maternal river monsters. Flaming giraffe equals masculine apocalyptic monster. Cat angel equals divine heterosexual monster. Hourglass equals metaphysical monster. Gala and Dalí equal sentimental monster. The little blue dog is not a true monster."
Inventions of the Monsters has an ominous mood. It is rife with threats of danger, from the menacing fire in the distance to the sibylline figure in the foreground with an hourglass and a butterfly, both symbols of the inevitability of death. Next to this figure sit Dalí and his wife and muse, Gala. With his native Catalonia embroiled in the Spanish Civil War, the artist surely felt great anxiety over a world without a safe haven, a world that indeed had allowed for the invention of monsters.
James Thrall Soby and Museum of Modern Art, Salvador Dalí (New York, 1946) pp. 21, 23, 62 (ill.).
Juan Antonio Nuño, Salvador Dalí. Con cuartro ilustraciones en color y cuarenta y ocho en negro (Barcelona, 1950), fig. 27.
“Salvador Dalí. Die Erfindung der Ungeheuer.” Du 11 (November 1952), p.34.
Catalog of Works by Salvador Dalí in Public Museum Collections (Cleveland, 1956 ), p. 41 (ill.).
Art Institute, El Mundo de los Museos: Instituto de arte de Chicago: presentación de Charles C. Cunningham (Buenos Aires, 1967), p. 15 (ill.) fig. 71, and pp. 75, 76–7 (ill.) as Inventos de los monstruos.
Harvard H. Arnason, History of Modern Art (New York, 1968), no. 163.
Robert Descarnes, Salvador Dalí, The Library of Great Painters (New York, 1976), p. 121 (ill.).
Dalí. La obra y la personalidad de un opintor en tantos aspectos desconcertante (Barcelona, 1980), no. 19.
Robert Descarnes, Salvador Dalí: The Work, the Man (New York, 1984), p. 213 (ill).
Wieland Schmied, Salvador Dalí. Das Rätsel der Begierde (Munich, 1991), fig. 11.
Robert Descharnes and Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí 1904-1989. Das Malerische Werk, vol. 1 (Cologne, 1993), p. 292 (ill).
Art Institute, The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies: The Joseph Winterbotham Collection, 20, no. 2 (1994), p. 169 (ill.).
Fiona Bradley, “Doubling and Dédoublement: Gala in Dalí,” Art History 17, no. 4 (December 1994), pp. 612-30, 618 (ill).
Haim Finkelstein, Salvador Dalí’s Art and Writing, 1927-1942 (Cambridge, 1996), fig. 75.
Ian Gibson, The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí (London, 1997) p.376.
Salvador Dalí. A Guide to His Works in Public Museums (Clevelend, 1974) p.4 4(ill.).
Paris, Renou et Colle, July 6-30, 1937.
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, Paintings in the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James Thrall Soby, November 1940.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Paintings, Drawings, Prints: Salvador Dalí, 1941, pp. 26, 28, 62, fig. 33
Chicago, The Art Institute, The Winterbotham Collection, May 23-June 22, 1947, pp. 12-3 (ill.).
Denver, Art Museum, The Modern Artist and His World, March 6-April 27, 1949, p. 11 (ill.).
Dallas, Museum of Fine Arts, The Winterbotham Colleciton of 20tth Century Art, October. 8-November 6, 1949.
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Reality and Fantasy, 1900-1954, May 23-July 2, 1954, no. 44.
New York, Gallery of Modern Art, Salvador Dalí 1910-1965, December 18-February 28, 1966, no. 86.
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuninge, Dalí, November 21, 1970-January 10, 1971, no. 56.
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Salvador Dalí. Retrospective, December 18, 1979-April 21, 1980, no. 249.
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Salvador Dalí, May 12-July 23, 1989, no. 196; traveled to Zurich, Kunsthaus, August 18- October. 22, 1989, Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art, December 16, 1989-March 11, 1990, and Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts, April 13-July 29, 1990.
Tokyo, ASAHI Shimbun, Masterworks of Modern Art from The Art Institute of Chicago, no. 39, pp. 126–7 (ill.); traveled to Nagaoka, Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, April 20, 1994–May 29, 1995; Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, June 10–July 24, 1994: Yokohama Museum of Art, August 6 1994–September 25, 1994.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Salvador Dalí, February 6–May 15, 2005.
Mr. and Mrs. James T. Soby Collection, Farmington, Conneticut, by 1940 [Hartford 1940]. Durlacher Brothers, New York, by 1943. Sold to Art Institute, July 12, 1943.
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