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The First Days of Spring
Oil and collage on wood panel
Image: 19 3/4 in x 25 5/8 in
The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Gift of A. Reynolds & Eleanor Morse
Worldwide rights ©Salvador Dalí. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (Artists Rights Society), 2017 / In the USA ©Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc. St. Petersburg, FL 2017.
In his creative autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, the artist describes his process for generating the irrational images found in his early Surrealist paintings: “I spent the whole day seated before my easel, my eyes staring fixedly, trying to ‘see,’ like a medium...the images that would spring up in my imagination.” Few paintings demonstrate the hallucinatory results better than The First Days of Spring. Painted just a few months prior to his joining the Surrealist movement, it presents many of the Freudian symbols and irrational details that characterize his Surrealist period. It is also one of his first uses of collage, skillfully manipulating photos into his composition so that they are indistinguishable from the painted imagery. Dalí proudly referred to this work as a “veritable erotic delirium,” indicating that his goal was to create an abundance of shocking images, painted with astonishingly precise detail.
Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams is the primary influence behind the painting. Freud proposed that the source of people’s fears, desires and neuroses can be found in their childhood experiences; Dalí places a photo of himself as a child in the center of this canvas, suggesting that various images in the painting might relate to his own childhood memories. A grey wasteland is the stage for his visions, where he places clusters of figures together as if connected through the free associations of dreams.
A survey of the canvas reveals extraordinary and disturbing details: a postcard of people on a ship enjoying a holiday, representing the audience Dalí wanted to shock; a taboo sexualized couple painted on top of the postcard; an image of a face with a grasshopper attached, recalling Dalí’s childhood fears; a dressed man mounting another dressed man; a father and son looking on from the far distance; an object in the foreground combining a colorful jug and fish with hair and numbers; and on the right, a figure of a young girl with an old man who resembles Freud. The First Days of Spring laid the groundwork for Dalí’s Surrealist career, with many of these images returning over the subsequent years.
1929, París, Galerie Goemans, “Dalí”
1930, Paris, Galerie Goemans, “Exposition de collages”
1952, Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, “Phantastische Kunst des XX.Jahrhunderts”
1965, New York, Gallery of Modern Art, “Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965”
1994, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, "Dalí Joven, 1918-1930"
1994, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Dali: The Early Years"
1994, London, Hayward Gallery, "Dali: The Early Years"
1995, Barcelona, Palau Robert, "Dali: els Anys Joves, 1918-1930"
1995, St. Petersburg, Salvador Dali Museum, “The Young Dali: Works from 1914-1930”
1998, Liverpool, Tate Gallery, “Dali: A Mythology”
1999, St. Petersburg, Salvador Dalí Museum, “Salvador Dalí: A Mythology”
1999, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, "Dali Exhibition 1999"
1999, Shinjuku(Tokyo), Mitsukoshi Museum of Art, "Dali Exhibition 1999"
2000, St. Petersburg, Florida, The Salvador Dalí Museum, "Masterpieces of Surrealism"
2004, Venezia, Palazzo Grassi, "Dali Retrospective"
2005, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Dali Retrospective"
2006, Tokyo, Ueno Royal Museum, “Dalí Centennial Retrospective”
2007, London, The Tate Modern, “Dali and Film”
2008, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “Dali and Film”
2008, New York, Museum of Modern Art, “Dali and Film”
2009, Melbourne, National more