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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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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.


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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