“An elegant woman is a woman who doesn’t acknowledge you and always smells divine.”

- Salvador Dali, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali ~ “The Invisible Man”, 1929

Though begun in 1929, The Invisible Man was not completed until 1932. It was the first painting in which Dali began to use the double images that were to flood his work over the next decade, during his “paranoia-critical” period. The double images used here are not as successful as the later painting, Swans Reflecting Elephants (1937). The viewer is aware of the illusions that Dali is creating before they are aware of what the overall form is meant to be.

The yellow clouds become the man’s hair; his lace and upper torso are formed by ruined architecture that is scattered in the landscape and a waterfall creates the vague outline of his legs. As with almost all Dali’s work in 1929, this painting deals with his fear of sex. The recurring image of the “jug woman” appears on the left of the picture. To the right of her is an object with a womb shape, part of which delineates the right arm of the man. The dark shape outlining the fingers and legs of the man suggests the female form. Beneath the man a wild beast is prowling - another of Dali’s recurring sexual symbols. [source]

Salvador Dalí was born today in 1904. His Retrospective Bust of a Woman, on view now in our Fifth Floor galleries, features a preserved baguette, dangling cobs of corn, and a necklace made of a zoetrope (a precinematic film strip), among other striking details. When this sculpture was exhibited in 1933, Picasso’s dog is said to have eaten the original loaf of bread.  

[Installation view of the Alfred H. Barr Painting and Sculpture Galleries, Fifth Floor. Shown: Salvador Dalí. Retrospective Bust of a Woman. 1933 (some elements reconstructed 1970). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York]