Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) – The Surreal World of Salvador Dalí

As his fame grew, Dalí’s reputation was undermined by his outrageous pronouncements. He confessed that he dreamed of Adolph Hitler “as a woman” whose flesh “ravished me.” Although he insisted he rejected Hitlerism despite such fantasies, the Surrealists, who were allied to the French Communist Party, expelled him in 1939. He also later extolled Spain’s fascist leader Gen. Francisco Franco for establishing “clarity, truth and order” in Spain. Yet just before the civil war began, Dalí painted Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), in which a tormented figure, straight out of the works of Francisco Goya, tears itself apart in what Dalí called “a delirium of autostrangulation.” The work is a powerful antiwar statement….

Salvador Dalí spent much of his life promoting himself and shocking the world. He relished courting the masses, and he was probably better known, especially in the United States, than any other 20th-century painter, including even fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso. He loved creating a sensation, not to mention controversy, and early in his career exhibited a drawing, titled Sacred Heart, that featured the words ‘Sometimes I Spit with Pleasure on the Portrait of My Mother’. 

Publicity and money apparently mattered so much to Dalí that, twitching his waxed, upturned mustache, he endorsed a host of products for French and American television commercials. Diffidence was not in his vocabulary. “Compared to Velázquez, I am nothing,” he said in 1960, “but compared to contemporary painters, I am the most big genius of modern time.”….

Salvador Dalí’s surreal dalliance with Nazism

Julián Casanova – The Spanish Civil War, 80 years after

Ai Weiwei: History of Bombs review – high-impact reminder of our insatiable desire for destruction

Book review: The Colour of Time – a pictorial history of global conflict

Book review: The Tragic sense by Algis Valiunas

Memory displaced: Jean Améry’s “Torture”

Jaap Kloosterman: Secret Societies – a history