my friend clifford showed me this AMAZING Dali painting, "the anthropomorphic cabinet".
the painting exactly embodies the title, which I find interesting because Dali's paintings and his titles are usually so ambiguous, like the ever so famous:
"the persistence of memory"
or one of my favorite paintings, that I still struggle to understand:
"dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate"
if someone can explain this one to me, without context, just with pure perception, I will be forever indebted to you.
Anyways, i digress... which makes me think of Holden Caulfield, which makes me want to digress again, so i will.
to steal Mr. Darcy's words, "you have bewitched me, body and soul", Holden Caufield.
never have I met a more complex, and interesting character in a book, he heavily rivals Gatsby himself.
my current mission is to find someone to "chew the fat" with, all about Holden. interested?
ANYWAYS, back to my point "the anthropomorphic cabinet", so powerful right?
So, as I learned back in my AP art history days, there are many ways to understand a painting, and as much as you research, and analyze you may never know the true meaning of a work.
but that's a given.
it's the same with literature and music, you can appreciate a composer, like Beethoven (i recently saw the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra perform his fifth symphony, so Ludwig's on my mind) and even completely know a piece of music. for instance Fur Elise, all the notes, the dynamics, and chords, everything memorized. (p.s. i'm describing myself here). Looking at the title, you can assume that the piece is "for elise", but scholars have NO idea who elise is, there is even talk about the music being transcribed incorrectly.
Basically, I personally believe that as much as you know about a piece of art, music or novel you will never fully understand its meaning, its purpose, and the reason it was created.
I think that's what I love about it though, the ambiguity. I had "woman with flower head" on my wall for the entire year and would see something new almost every time i looked at it. I would sit on my bed and just stare at it, and talk with friends about its meaning. (nerds)
we never came to a conclusion.
i digress, again. my goodness.
ANYWAYS, back to "the anthropomorphic cabinet", I did some research to see if I could attempt to understand its meaning.
1) the title itself, anthropomorphic means an object that shows human characteristics. a cabinet is a cabinet. Thus, a cabinet that shows human characteristics.
2) Dali did a lot of works with cabinets, why? I found out he was influenced by Freud, he said:
a)"they are kinds of allegories destined to illustrate a certain complacency, to smell the innumerable narcissistic odors emanating from each one of our drawers," and more precisely later, "The unique difference between immortal Greece and the contemporary epoch is Sigmund Freud, who discovered that the human body, which was purely neo-platonian at the time of the Greeks, is today full of secret drawers that only psychoanalysis is capable of opening."
That is the most specific research I could find on this work (if i'm missing something, tell me please!). So yes, now we know he was influenced by Freud and believed that humans have these intrinsic drawers that remain closed unless an outside source (in my experience) forces them open. but why did he choose to picture a "woman", sitting the way she was? where she was? what is it exactly coming out of the middle drawer (looks a little bit like guts, but why?)? why are the contours of her body painted so delicately or even manly? why is she shielding her face with her hair? is her arm outstretched because she is attempting to hide her internal cabinets from the outside world?
i can see that this work is Caravaggio-esque, it exhibits some characteristics of chiaroscuro (one of the only words I remember from my art history days), a shading technique that plays with contrasts between light and dark, but why did he use this technique? why are there six cabinets? and why are there different locks and knobs on the cabinets?
granted i'm a bonafide overthinker.
I could go on and describe what i really think about this painting, but I think i've said enough.
I found a really interesting take on this theme that solidifies my belief that the beauty of art lies in its ambiguity.
the ability for people to explore knowledge and to attempt to understand the world through a piece of art is one of the most powerful educational tools out there today.
interesting blog post (if you were interested at all in my post): http://whycompromise.blogspot.com/2007/10/my-chest-of-drawers-notes-from-london.html
I dunno, i find surrealism insanely interesting, and i find Dali specifically so interesting.
again, anyone interested in "chew(ing) the fat"? telling me your perception of the painting?