Monday, November 02, 2009

Human skull


In Voluptas Mors, 1951, photograph by Philippe Halsman, in collaboration with Salvador Dali

The most stunning thing about this work is the point of view of the skull, which feels overwhelmingly masculine despite its feminine composition. He's just an insinuation, yet he completely dominates the image. He is at once evil and laughing.

He is not the sum of his parts. He is the sum of his parts.

The women's feet are delicate and vulnerable as feet and chaotic as teeth. Their flesh appears soft, but when viewed as bone, it's harsh.

Dali was Spanish, Halsman was Latvian. What of the women? What was it like in the studio that day? Imagine how many takes it took to get the women positioned just right.

Then there's Dali sitting on the left. I'm so preoccupied with the skull and the women, that my brain can barely process Dali, yet there he is and will have to be gotten through like all the rest of it.

When something blows up your mind, it's art. This is art.


Imperative companion notes

I am a complete freak for jigsaw puzzles and have one 2,000-piece Dali puzzle, Femme a Tete de Roses.

Growing up, one of my good friends was Latvian. I was frequently invited to family events, wherein tables would overflow with traditional Latvian food. My favorite was pîrâgi, or bacon buns. We pronounced it pea-dog. Now that I've found a recipe, I think I'll bake up a batch. My friend's mom and aunt always used Spam in lieu of bacon or pork. I like the Spam substitution. It fits my Cleveland sensibility.

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27 comments:

(S)wine said...

i am Romanian, so i share a bit of geographical space w/the Latvians, the Poles, the Hungarians, the Czechs, the Slovaks, etc. i sometimes get melancholic about that side of the world and its customs...and then i shake myself out of it w/a cold 9 oz. gin martini.

i love Dali. there is the great story of him laughing uncontrollably while working on one of his paintings. i choose to always think of Dali that way.

Anonymous said...

"When something blows up your mind, it's art."

Yes.

RJ

Jack Cluth said...

Good art makes you think, whether you like it or not. THIS is art.

Gina said...

I adore Dali. I agree with your synopsis here, too. Can I get the pea-dog recipe? I am intrigued.

Julie said...

Fabulous.

Melissa said...

I love when dali did beautiful things. All his work was ART, but I love his skulls... usually made out of feminine archetypes... LOVE.
This is a gorgeous picture. I love it. I wanna frame it and put it on my wall.

Tina said...

Wow, that's a powerful piece. I love Dali, but I hadn't seen it before. Thank you for that. Anyone see Little Ashes about Dali's young life with the lovely Robert Pattinson?

Angela P said...

Where did you get this: "He is not the sum of his parts"?

I've heard it before somewhere...

Hiding Myself From Me said...

Funny I was just looking at this photo a few days ago. It is the same one that makes up the skull on the deaths head moth on the "silence of the lambs" dvd cover. Cool.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Dali was completely away with the fairies; but then again, if he wasn't, he'd not have been able to produce the beautiful art he did. You can't be sane and produce that kind of work.

Kirk Jusko said...

Naked to the bone.

Big Mark 243 said...

Dag ... anon beat me to it ..!

This is a work ... it reminds me of the way I felt watching the movie Hexagon: Witchcraft Through The Ages.

Like viewing this photo, I didn't know what I was looking at. But it didn't stop the film or the picture from spinning around in my mind.

Joshua said...

Truly amazing. Great analysis.

Thanks!

-Joshua

Glass Houses said...

I special ordered a print of "In Voluptas Mors" for a boyfriend once.

He was blown away when I gave it to him.

Still the best present I think I've ever given anybody, ever.

DogsDontPurr said...

Geez, Erin...are you trying to kill us?! First, all that candy, followed by a light snack of bacon cheese burger donuts....and now BACON BUNS?!!!!

I better make sure my health insurance is paid up before I read your posts!


Mmmmm.....bacon......

Whitenoise said...

Skull? Was I supposed to see more than a stack of naked chicks...?

Aris said...

The artist is trying to say what's inside his head.= )

daisymay said...

i am such a huge huge dali fan, and adore his work. although I have never seen this particular one before, so nice find. I love the contrasting you have mentioned with the women.

Isabella said...

I do not like the teeth. Too creepy.

Anonymous said...

my husband sold a tee shirt with a skull made of nekkid people for years when he was doing silkscreen...now i know where it came from!

jo

jford said...

WOW - that is wonderfully intriguing photo: it grabs the attention and wont let go. I appreciate your commentary.

So how is the puzzle coming?

The Expatresse said...

Google images for Jan Saudek. Czech guy. I met him once. Very cool, bizarre, disturbing, beautiful photos. This reminded me of his work although they only thing they have in common is the naked figures.

Gillian said...

Interesting shot. Leaves a lot to ponder

H2RTN said...

That pictures is awesome...

Celtic_Girl said...

New reader to your blog and loving it! Thanks for posting about postcrossing, I'm all signed up and looking forward to getting some snailmail!

Entrepreneur Chick said...

This is my very favorite reason why I adore the world of blogs- I'd never, ever have seen this amazing photograph, otherwise.

Thank you.

ahclem said...

"What was it like in the studio that day?"

Like this:

http://citizenkoan.blogspot.com/2009/11/making-of.html