The First Days of Spring by Salvador Dali

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The First Days of Spring by Salvador Dali

Painting NameThe First Days of Spring
Painter NameSalvador Dali
Completion Date1929
Size49.5 cm × 64 cm (19.5 in × 25.2 in)
TechniqueCollage, Oil
Current LocationSalvador Dalí Museum St. Petersburg Florida

This is one of the earliest surrealist paintings from Salvador Dali. It was produced in 1929 when Dali was around 25 years old. He had completed his short experiments with Cubism and was getting allured towards the Surrealism which he expanded largely in his later life.

The First Days of Spring Analysis

There is a large, endless grey platform spreading on all sides visible in the scene. In the middle, the platform lowers itself two steps on the left side.

Normal, natural, abnormal, unnatural, dreamy…all types of elements are put on this big plain in arbitrary manner. Some resembles to the real life natural objects, on the other some are very bizarre and somewhat nightmarish. For example, a feminine figure sitting on the lower left side on whose shoulder is grieving a suited man, seems a bit terrifying to see as her face is replaced with weird, hairy ear-like part. From it comes out many black dots resembling to flies. The man griving on her shoulder looks sad, gloomy and mourning. In his hands are holding a type of pot. Behind them is a big genre-painting of a happy crowd. There seems a little bit of contrast of emotions in that part of the painting.

On the right, is vase like scuplture with a fish’s face coming out of it. The peak of the scuplture is covered with grassy substance. We can see numbers like 10, 10, 2 and 11, 2 ,4 on it.

Going further right is sculpture of geometric shape. The topmost square holds an unfinished bust. The hard bubble hanging above the head captivates random objects like bird’s head, a two pointed pencil with different color on each side, a suited man with a stick and black shadow and a deer-like figure.

Just below the bubble, is another face closing its eyes shut. At the place of its skull is depicted a little boy’s face. On its nose sits a giant locust. Face with locust’s depiction is also visible in Dali’s another painting The Great Masturbator.

On the far right is a girl giving a hat-like object to the elder brown-suited man with white beard. Their shadows are sharp, but girl’s shadow doesn’t cast according to her posture of outstretched hand.

On the left side of the dreamy bubble is a scene of two men. Both are suited and one is standing over another pulling his hair backwards. The man sleeping on the ground’s shadow isn’t casted on the ground. Going parallel with the steps of the plain, at the far distance comes two figures which seems to be a man and a pet.

At the middle of the painting, on the steps is put a portrait photo of a little kid. Going on the left side of the steps, comes a graffiti-like design which is met by the black flies coming out of the head of the faminie figure in the foreground.

The last figure on the left side is a man sitting alone on a stool, facing opposite direction than the viewer.

Portrayal of Father-son Relationship

Dali’s many surrealist paintings are un-interpretable. They are purely outlandish and very hard to interpret successfully. Even if various people comes up with their interpretations, getting the consensus among the critics and art-community is similarly hard.

One such interpretation is that the painting reflects Dali and his father’s bittered relationship during the time. Dali was under pressure of career making and his father was, allegedly, disappointed with Dali’s career choice and bizarre behavior. The painting is said to be the reflection of Dali’s ongoing feelings and his desire to mend the relationship.

The grieving man on the feminine figure shows his sadness and the happy painting behind them is his desire to be happy again.

We see repeated appearance of a child and a fatherly figure. On the far right, the girl is trying to make the elderly person happy by helping to get his hat, or whatever that thing is. The second head beside the half bust is also depicted with a child in his head. The steps holds a portrait of children. The fighting men could be said as the portrayal of Dali’s agony. The lonely man on far left sitting on a tool is said to be portrayal of Dali’s indignant father.

Still, some objects aren’t defined or explained in this interpretation.

This one of the earliest surrealist work by Salvador Dali is currently in showcase of Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida.

One Response to “The First Days of Spring by Salvador Dali”
  1. Simon

    As you say, his picturea are uninterpretable, and their uninterpretability is part of their fascination – as he once said, about a film he was once making ‘ you do not have to understand it ‘applies to his art- and not just his art, but to all great art, really. Not only that, but maybe he didn’t understand it either – but before anyone takes issue, think of music – does the inspired musician ‘understand’ what he is inspired by ? No, he is just a messenger, who just happens to be able to portray the sounds in his mind no less than the artist can portray the visions in his mind, for all to see. All the same I am going to try and find some points which may serve to clarify this vision.

    The interplay between the human and insect world seems one emphasised here, not only in that the world and food chain of the insect runs parallel to that of endoskeletal human and beast, in that though they never seem to exchange except in death (far left) of the human, the painting seems to suggest that is only the extreme, that relations between upright, internally skeletoned humans and our six legged hexapodal exoskeletal brethren is more intimate, that not only in death (the left image) which still suggests that thoughts are as the insects buzzing above the exploded head and that the unconscious thoughts of the human are consistent with those of the wakeful insect (on the right) maybe this relationship between human and hexapod is also more consistent than just one of life and death – but of waking and sleep – that all beings share a consciousness upon sleeping, perhaps a collective unconsciousness.

    The insects above the exploded head of the figure on the left are transformed into objects of light and shadow – perhaps beings of the night projected into daylight, hence their shadow, these seemingly suspended objects of dual wings, echo those of gravity bound beings – humanity, casting long shadows, in their seeingly motionless, statuesque interactions, as if in losing levity, gaining gravity, these beings of a giants world are still no more than the substantiation of flickering thought or thought’s symbol in the form of hovering flies, who seem to possess no less joie de vivre than the postcard of tennis playing holidaymakers on a liner’s deck.The holidaymakers though are only static, photographed, dead, however seemingly colourfully attired and disporting, to contrast with the very three dimensional sculptural female corpse in front of it – the man next to her, leaning on her right shoulder appears to be washing his hands – was he her murderer ?

    The blood on his hands over the bucket at his knees suggests so, though he is leaning his head on her right shoulder as if in penance – perhaps the appearance of the joys of spring as photographed as an ideal and the horrors of spring as portrayed as the reality of a crime of passion and consequent decay – so to my mind this imagery depicts the extremes of phenomena, the very opposite of romantically held notions that one might associate with spring, more of bestial passion, possession and destruction that is no different as manifested in the world of men than that of the insect. as both no more hapless puppets beholden to will, for all men’s apparel and notions of civlity – to reduce to object another human through murder is no different to the insect dehumanising the human by consuming it in its decay, what are these hexapods but nature’s receptacles who accommodate dead humanity no less than the earth and then the atrata who will accommodate their bones, the picture as said seems to depict a closer relationship between human and insect thatn the chance overlapping of their food chains via death, but also through life, as if the decay and bestialisation of the human mind is also accommodated by the insect world – in this interpretation also anticipating the concepts of Alice Bailey, particularly ‘A Treatise on White Magic’ whereby she theorises that all insect entities represent a parallel manifestation of human thought in which the self hood or egotism of the thinker exceeds their consciousness, hence giving rise to insect manifestation as the blind substantiation of that person’s thought. This was written in the 1930’s though, a while after ‘The First Day’s of Spring’ was painted, though it does not mean it could not be in anticipation thereof.

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