The Spanish artist Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) was the most important advocate of surrealism in paintings. His pictures show fantastic and dreamlike scenes, which remain in your memory due to their expression and originality. We also asked ourselves, whether we would be able to discover the Moon in Dalí as well, just like in other paintings (e.g. by Marc Chagal, Paul Klee, Caspar David Friedrich, William Turner, Adam Elsheimer or Petrus van Schendel)? And after a little bit of searching, we managed to find something.
It is the painting »Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening« (what a title!) from 1944. This work stems from the time when Dalí was in exile in the US.
You can see the surface of an ocean, on which a naked lady sleeps right in the foreground, hovering above a slab of rock – a portrait of Dalí’s wife Gala. The picture shows a fish and two tigers plus a gun with bayonet, which are jumping towards the woman while coming out of a pomegranate. In front of this scene, the implied bee is flying around another pomegranate, which gave the painting its title. In the background, you can see a long-legged elephant stalking across the horizon and in between his hind legs, you can see the half round, waxing Moon in the sky. Although it is daylight, you can see clearly the dark spots of the lunar maria.
The Moon does not play a central role here and is normally not mentioned in interpretations. However, we still feel it is important. The Moon establishes the connection to the night and hence the unconscious, and also stands for the symbol of the feminine. Both were important subjects for Dalí.
That the artist should have actually painted a waning Moon in a morning sky of the northern hemisphere (meaning the rounding on the other side, because in the mornings you can only watch the waning Moon above the horizon), can be confidently discarded – that’s surrealism!
Painting: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid