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Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)
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Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)

Salvador Dalí, Spanish, 1904 - 1989

Made in Spain, Europe


Oil on canvas

39 5/16 x 39 3/8 inches (99.9 x 100 cm)

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 269, Modern and Contemporary Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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Gruesome, bizarre, and excruciatingly meticulous in technique, Salvador Dalí’s paintings rank among the most compelling portrayals of the unconscious mind. In this work, the artist turned his attention to the impending Spanish Civil War, which began in July 1936 and would turn his native country into a bloody battleground. Dalí described this convulsively arresting picture as “a vast human body breaking out into monstrous excrescences of arms and legs tearing at one another in a delirium of autostrangulation.” The desecration of the human body was a great preoccupation of the Surrealists in general, and of Dalí in particular. Here, the figure’s ecstatic grimace, taut neck muscles, and petrifying fingers and toes create a vision of disgusting fascination.


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).

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.