Religious or devotional art is not usually associated with the Surrealist Salvador Dalí; however, there is a place for the genre in his oeuvre. There is a gap in his artistic styles between his infamous Surrealism and his Nuclear Mysticism. His fascination with the developing field of psychoanalytic theory consumed his attention until the late 1930s. After the late 1950s, Dalí devoted his artistic expression to subject matter exploring contemporary scientific theories that he deemed “Nuclear Mysticism” or “Nuclear Age.” But in the interim period, Dalí was investing much time into the study of Christian liturgy as well as theology. This shift becomes apparent in works such as the devotional image of the Nuclear Cross; a work that represents a move from Surrealism toward a form of Christian inspiration that could be described as Liturgical Realism. Only Michael Taylor and Dawn Ades even mention this cross, albeit briefly, in their discussions of Dalí’s depictions of the crucifixion.
The Nuclear Cross characterizes Dalí’s distinctive explorations during this period. This essay will examine Dalí’s other art work from this period and examine his particular interests as well as contemporary debates. His shift in style is due to his vast research into the history of Christian theology and liturgical practices as well as shifts in philosophies of science and religion from Freud to Heisenberg. Within this period of independent research and art making, Dalí functions as a pseudo-theologian and a quasi-scientist, and these identities are played out in the Nuclear Cross.
Krzysztof Komperda, ’11
Majors: Art and Art History, Religion
Sponsor: Christina Penn-Goetsch