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Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)

1936
Salvador Dalí, Spanish, 1904 - 1989
Salvador Dalí painted this allegory of self-inflicted carnage while living in Paris in early 1936, on the eve of the devastating civil war in his Spanish homeland between Francisco Franco’s right-wing nationalist forces and the elected Republic. The painting flaunts its flair for gruesome detail. A grimacing colossus towers over a sunbaked Spanish landscape and deliriously rips itself apart. Limbs are switched around and turned upside down, and the body’s trunk is missing entirely. A limp phallic shape draped over the truncated hip is a striking example of Dalí’s soft forms, implicitly referring to putrefaction and death. The scattered beans of the title exemplify the bizarre incongruities of scale to conjure the workings of an unconscious mind. Dalí interpreted the Spanish conflict in psychoanalytic terms, and he included an homage to Sigmund Freud, the initiator of psychoanalysis whose work inspired him to embrace such nightmarish visions, by including a tiny portrait of Freud inspecting the gnarled hand at lower left....

Object Details
With Julien Levy Gallery, New York, by 1937 (on consignment from Peter Watson?) [1]; purchased from the artist by Stendahl Art Galleries, Los Angeles, November 4, 1937 [2]; sold to Louise and Walter C. Arensberg, Los Angeles, 1937; gift to PMA, 1950.1. See 1937 exhibition loan label on reverse of painting.2. Stendahl purchased the painting out of the Carnegie International exhibition (see Stendahl Gallery records, Archives of American Art, microfilm reel #2722, frame 130). See also the Arensbergs' provenance notes dated December 1, 1951 (PMA, Arensberg Archives).

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