Salvador Dali // The Great Masturbator // Surrealism

DaliGreatMasturbatorIt’s amazing to me how Salvador Dali could fit such profound personality and symbolism onto a single canvas.  This work, boldly titled “The Great Masturbator”, was inspired part by nature, part by libido, and part by fear. The largest element is the “head” (the yellow part in the center). From left to right, its elongated nose grazes the ground, then goes up to long yet thin eyelashes, put together with a rose-y red cheek. Right below the head is a locust attached at the mouth. The bottom portion of the locust is covered in ants, which without looking at detail look like pubic hair, implying fellatio. In many of Dali’s works, ants symbolize sexual anxiety. On an opposite note, the top right portion of this painting features a beautiful woman, and a man’s genitals “flowing” out of the yellow head, there is even a beautiful white flower. The woman and the man represent the ideal sexual relationship, a relationship that Dali could not have due to a trauma from his childhood, which resulted in him always associating sex with decay (as represented by the locust). Right below the locust are two figures entangled in desire,yet they only cast one shadow. This could be where the name “The Great Masturbator” comes from, as everything else on the canvas, is only a figment of his imagination.

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