Saturday, 23 January 2010

Salvador Dali, Christ of St John of the Cross

This picture by Salvador Dali aroused gasps of appreciation at the home group in Ludgershall on Thursday, we have been following the ICES material 'Snapshots of the Life of Christ' and this was the final session. I have loved the picture for a long time, and found the background material from ICES interesting and surprising:

This picture by Salvador Dali has aroused strong, even violent, emotions. When it was purchased for Glasgow Art Galleries for £8,200 there was a storm of protest. It was seriously damaged in 1961 by a 'mentally disturbed visitor’, who attacked it with a brick. In 2005 the picture was voted Scotland’s favourite painting in a poll conducted by The Herald newspaper.
It has been regarded as arrogant: ‘only God can look down on the cross’ and even as anti-Christian: no blood, no nails – a crucifixion denuded of its true significance. William Crozier organized a petition against the purchase of the painting. He said in an interview later 'You can’t imagine this man saying, ‘This day you will be with me in paradise’ but rather, ‘This day I will be with you in Hollywood’.
It is clear, however, that Dali himself intended it as an expression of his rediscovered Catholic faith. At the bottom of his studies for the Christ, he wrote: ‘In the first place, in 1950, I had a “cosmic dream” in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the “nucleus of the atom”. This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it “the very unity of the universe”, the Christ! In the second place, when thanks to the instructions of Father Bruno, a Carmelite, I saw the Christ drawn by Saint John of the Cross, I worked out geometrically a triangle and a circle, which “aesthetically” summarized all my previous experiments, and I inscribed my Christ in this triangle.’
The Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, speaks of the sense of calm that it engenders: suffering has now been overcome by peace. The victory is achieved.
The members of the home group asked me to find out the size of the painting, and the answer is 205 cm × 116 cm (80.7 in × 45.67 in). The effect the painting has on me is to remember that in my suffering God is there, we see the cross from God's perspective, our eyes travelling through the cross, through Christ's body to earth, the place that we live and work: From the eternal to the here and now. So often, when I am suffering I lose all perspective of God, but in this painting our pain and our lives are all held within the enveloping peace and love of God.

Picture from http://

No comments:

Post a Comment