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Oil on canvas
Framed: 120 x 120 x 7.7 cm (47 1/4 x 47 1/4 x 3 1/16 in.); Unframed: 96 x 96 cm (37 13/16 x 37 13/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2001.34
© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Surrealists were interested in tapping into the unconscious mind. For many members of the movement, dreams offered the opportunity to connect with the unconscious. Dali and other Surrealist artists created images depicting strange juxtapositions that are sometimes referred to as dreamscapes.
The Dream gives visual form to the strange, often disturbing world of dreams and hallucinations. Ants cluster over the face of the central figure, obscuring the mouth, while the sealed, bulging eyelids suggest the sensory confusion and frustration of a dream. The man at the far left - with a bleeding face and amputated left foot - refers to the classical myth of Oedipus, who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. The column that grows from the man’s back and sprouts into a bust of a bearded man refers to the Freudian father, the punishing superego who suppresses the son’s sexual fantasies. In the distance, two men embrace, one holding a golden key or scepter symbolizing access to the unconscious. Behind them, a naked man reaches into a permeable red form, as if trying to enter it.
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