Mirage signed 'DALI' (lower centre) oil on canvas 14 x 23 1/4 in. (35.6 x 60 cm.) Painted in 1946
Artist or Maker
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
New York, Knoedler Gallery, Trilogy of the Desert, Three New Paintings by Salvador Dalí, October 1946. Palm Beach, Society of the Four Arts, March 1949.
R. Descharnes & G. Néret, Salvador Dalí 1904-1989, The Paintings, vol. I, 1904-1946, Cologne, 1994, no. 899, p. 395 (illustrated and incorrectly titled 'Desert Trilogy - Apparition of a Woman and Suspended Architecture in the Desert - For "Desert Flower" perfume').
William Lightfoot Schultz, New York, and thence by descent. Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998.
THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
Entitled Mirage, this painting, executed in 1946 presents an almost literal representation of a theme that permeates much of Dali's art: the emerging of mystical vision-like apparitions from the vast emptiness of the flat desolate Ampurdan landscape of his Catalonian homeland.
In Mirage Dali uses the conventional notion of a mirage as seen in the desert, as a metaphor for a girl's illusion of love. Shown acclaiming a white desert flower that emanates from the head of Apollo, it is uncertain whether the vision stems from the girl's imagination or is a hallucinatory apparition emerging from the radiating heat on the desert horizon.
Dali described the subject of this painting as follows: 'The encounter of a beautiful woman (Venus) with Apollo in the desert symbolises the mirage of love. The aura of classic antiquities and the desert flowers issuing from the forehead of Apollo evokes the timeless feeling of love.'
This theme of the 'mirage of love' is one that permeates much Surrealist thinking and also lies at the centre of Dali's intense if bizarre relationship with his wife and muse Gala. The question of reflexivity, of who is dreaming of who, runs through much of Dali's work but nowhere more so than in his great 1936 painting The Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Notably, the emergence of the 'desert flower' from the head of Apollo in this painting echoes the emergence of the narcissus flower from the egg/head in Dali's famous painting. As if it were a thought materialising from his own cracked head, Dali wrote in his poem about the painting, that the flower was his own Narcissus: Gala.
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