Untitled (Composition with Skeleton Figure) from 'Les Chants de Maldoror'
© Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, DACS, 2013

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Untitled (Composition with Skeleton Figure) from 'Les Chants de Maldoror' 1934
This work is from the series of prints Dalí produced for an illustrated revision of Comte de Lautréamont’s poetic novel, 'Les Chants de Maldoror', in 1934. A kneeling skeletal figure is depicted in the same pose as appears in several other prints. This imagery is almost certainly inspired by two contrasting sources: the illustrations in anatomical treatises from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, which were much prized by the Surrealists for their equivocal beauty, and also the sculptural ‘bone’ drawings and paintings made by Pablo Picasso between 1928 and 1932, when he was in close contact with the Surrealist movement. Set in a deserted landscape, there is a distinctly ominous feeling to the scene, with the malleable, slug-like forms contrasting with the weakened, crumbling bones.

Glossary Open

Photogravure

A photographic negative is transferred onto a copper plate, which can then be manipulated like an etching. It allows for creative working and results in a wide range of tones in the finished work.

Print

An image pressed or stamped onto paper or fabric. This encompasses a wide variety of techniques, usually produced in multiples, although one-off prints, known as monoprints, are also included. The term is also applied to photographic images.

Surrealism

A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Photogravure, Print, Surrealism

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 3955
  • Medium Heliogravure with drypoint on paper
  • Size 29.80 x 18.60 cm (paper 33.20 x 25.20 cm)
  • Credit Bequeathed by Gabrielle Keiller 1995