|Courtesy of www.DaliPaintings.com|
In one of Dali's best-known works from the post-Second World War era, a reclining nude hovers above one of the flat rocks at Port Lligat that in turn floats upon the Mediterranean Sea. This
state of immobility and suspended animation can be related to the artist's newfound interest in nuclear fission and atomic energy, which had replaced his earlier fascination with
Freudian Psychoanalysis. As the title of this painting suggests, however, dream imagery was still at the core of
his esthetics, as demonstrated by the alarming cavalcade of ferocious creatures and dangerous weapons that threaten the sleeping female figure.
In a chainlike succession of images, a pomegranate bursts open to release a giant red snapper that in turn disgorges two raging tigers, whose leaping forms were derived from a Ringling Bros, and Barnum-Bailey, circus poster. Closest to the gravity-defying female nude is a bayoneted rifle that is about to pierce her arm, while in the middle ground, near the horizon, an elephant carrying an obelisk on its back strides across the brilliant blue sea on stilted legs. This hybrid creature, a variation on Bernini's elephant-monument, was for Dali a symbol of war and destruction, and its presence in this painting helps to convey a mood of terror and confusion appropriate for such a nightmarish vision. The disconcerting image of an enormous fish spewing forth a pair of leaping tigers appears to have been directly inspired by the work of Hieronymus Bosch.