Salvador Dali The Burning Giraffe
1. Structural Frame In Paris in the mid sass’s surrealism became the new art movement and was widespread and lasting. The movement was characterized by pictures that contained detailed, strange and unnerving objects with dream like character. The art has a visually striking, controversial and bizarre quality, which was the result of the rejected ‘need’ for rational thought and behavior. Salvador Dali described the art as hand painted dream photographs”.
This description pinpoints the realistic detail hat was contrasted with surreal images. ‘The Burning Giraffe’ Salvador Dali was painted during his exile in the United States, but shows his personal struggle with the battle in his home country of Spain. It was painted before the Second World War and Dali believed the burning giraffe was a premonition of war. Dali interpreted the image of a giraffe with its back ablaze as “the masculine cosmic apocalyptic monster”. The painting illustrates ideas of death- through war, loss of individuality and the weakness of society.
In contrast to the usual surrealist obsession with unconscious thought, Salvador Dali described his technique as the “paranoiac-critical method.” He employed this technique to create ‘The burning Giraffe’ which allowed him to paint many optical allusions to create a dreamlike state. Surrealists painted with a high level of detail to create a sense of realism within the ‘dream’. Dalais style is precise and this enhances the ‘dream’ or ‘nightmare’ effect of ‘The burning Giraffe’. Dali used thinned oil paints s well as dense oil paints on a panel, which were traditional at the time.
Salvador Dali was one of the many surrealist painters that often incorporated images of women into their work. Many male surrealist painters had a typical male attitude towards women such as worshipping them symbolically through stereotypes and sexist norms. Surrealists including Salvador Dali had an interest in the concept of psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud. This influence combined with his desires towards women enhanced the nightmare effect of his painting, which the realist painters tried to create.
2. Cultural Frame Women were often made to represent higher values and transformed into objects of desire and mystery. ‘The Burning Giraffe’ depicts two women that are slim and curvaceous. One has a drawer opening from below her breasts and several more down her leg. This imagery gives an underlying impression that she is a sexual object as the open drawer could be a symbol of her sexual offerings and favors. The head, hands and part of the arms of the closest female are stripped down only to e the muscles beneath the skin whilst one figure holds a piece of meat.
The meat is another symbol of an offering, giving the impression that the women were possibly seen as ‘meat’, meaning they possibly were used for sexual favors. Dali shows a state of exhaustion by the uses of the crutches that hold and support the women. This image is symbolic of weakness and is present in many of Dalais work, consistent to address different themes with same effectiveness. Dali believed that both The Burning Giraffe and The Invention of Monsters were premonitions of war.
Both of these paintings contain the image of a giraffe with its back ablaze, an image which Dali interpreted as “the masculine cosmic apocalyptic monster”. He first used this image of the giraffe in flames in his film L ‘Age door (The Golden Age) in 1930. The Burning Giraffe appears as very much a dreamboats, not simply because of the subject but also because of the supernatural aquamarine color of the background. Against this vivid blue color, the flames on the giraffe stand out to great effect. In the foreground, a woman stands with her arms outstretched.
Her forearms and face are blood red, having been stripped to show the muscle beneath the flesh. The woman’s face is featureless now, indicating a nightmarish helplessness and a loss of individuality. Behind her, a second woman holds aloft a strip of meat, representing death, entropy, and the human races capacity to devour and destroy. The women both have elongated phallic shapes growing out from their backs, and these are propped up with crutches ‘ Dali repeatedly uses this symbolism for a weak and flawed society.