Dalí: art or kitsch

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Dalí de Púbol, known as Salvador Dalí, is a Spanish painter in the 1900s. He is best known for his paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, writing, film and jewellery. The Persistence of Memory is his best known work. Dalí’s work is really one of its kind. It is very controversial and abstract; his paintings are a paradox compared to the world as we know it. Some people say his work is so different that it questions arose whether or not it can actually be considered to be art or if it is kitsch.

What is art?
To be able to answer that question, it is important to know when anything can be looked at as art. There are many different forms of art, for example; architecture, cinema, dance, graffiti, music, painting, photography, poetry, sculpture, singing, theatre and writing. You also have some requirements. There is not one list of facts to cross off before you have art, everyone has their own set of rules. However, the basics are alike. For something to be considered as art it has to touch the audience on an emotional level, art makes you feel something. It can be wonder or cynicism, hope or despair, adoration or spite, it can be any feeling at all. As long as it evokes an emotion in you, that is the prime condition that has to be met. If something is art it is not necessarily beautiful “Beauty can be found in a snowy mountain scene: art is the photograph of it shown to family, the oil interpretation of it hung in a gallery”. Art is about who has produced it, it is only art if the maker intended it to be so. And its subjects are only bound by the artist imagination. They may be direct or complex, subtle or explicit, intelligible or obscure: whatever the artist wishes. On the other hand, the other institutions of art also have a say in what is art or kitsch. If the critics and art historians do not regard it as art it is not. A work of art is created to be presented to an art-world public. Art is the communication method between an artist and his or her audience. Art makes a meaning beyond language, it helps where language is not sufficient enough to explain. It asks a question which a non-art object does not. Not any painting is a work of art, art is special and it stands out. The obligation of a painting is to create a different view of the world or states an opinion by fulfilling an aesthetic function.

Dalí’s work
In total Salvador Dalí has made over 1300 works. Most of the works he did were paintings and sculptures. He has also worked as a graphic artist, designer, a filmmaker and jeweller. So it can be said that during the course of his career he experimented with many different forms of art. He also experimented with a few painting styles like cubism, futurism and metaphysical during his time at art school. All those experiments allowed him to further his points of expression. Most of his works are surrealistic and in them he realizes the dreams and imaginations of his mind with hallucinatory characters, he was changing the real world the way he wanted and not necessarily what it was. He was able to create this content by forms of mental exercises of accessing the subconscious parts of the mind to have an artistic inspiration. Just before he was going to paint he would stand on his head, so all the blood would flow to his brain, long enough that he would start to feel light headed and start to hallucinate. Another method he used was to sit in a chair with a pan and a knife in his hands, while he was trying to fall asleep. Just before you fall in a deep sleep you reach the subconscious part of your brain. When he would fall asleep he would drop the pan and knife so he would scare awake. Then he would paint or sculpt what he had seen in his subconscious mind. Salvador Dalí considered dreams and imagination as central rather than marginal to human thought. He embraced the surrealist theory of automatism. “The fact that I myself, at the moment of painting, do not understand my own pictures, does not mean that these pictures have no meaning; on the contrary, their meaning is so profound, complex, coherent, and involuntary that it escapes the most simple analysis of logical intuition.” Another subject for his works was an approach on sexual objects, and many images he created were of his wife Gala. She was his muse. On the contrary of his works of art which were very obscure, the techniques he used were actually traditional. For paintings he used oil paint on canvas, and that is very common.

Art or kitsch?
When compared with the criteria set out for works of art, Salvadore Dalí almost meets all of them. I assume that Salvador Dalí made his paintings and other works to present them as art, or to tell a story or message to the public. That is one rule. His artworks are used as a second language to explain to the people how his ideal world looks like and what his subconscious is made of. It is something which cannot be explained with human words, it is too complicated, too unrealistic. That is the second rule. I speak from experience when I say that the paintings make you feel something, they make you think, they make you want to uncover the hidden message if there even is one. So that is rule number three. His works are not necessarily beautiful, but they capture something beautiful. It is his mind, his thoughts, which Dalí puts on paper or sculpts in stone or depicts with other objects.

In defiance of not always understanding his work people seem to like it. And that is understandable considering that he is hallucinating most of the times, but that also makes it look like some sort of a fairy tale. Although his creations are crazy looking, they are considered to be art. The established checklist for art is completely crossed off, there might be criteria which are missing but it all checks out in the big picture.

Salvador Dalí is for sure an ARTist.


What makes something art?

Museum Voorlinden

During the Easter of 2017 I visited Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar, the museum shows works of art of a lot of different artists, whom are included in the permanent collection. Now and then they display a special exhibition dedicated to one artist. This time it was the British artist Martin Creed who was offered to show his exhibition in Voorlinden.

The building was specially for the museum, and is still fairly new. It is a new museum in a modern building. A fun fact is that some of the works were put in the museum even before it was finished. They had to build around it. Or there are works of art which are integrated in the building permanently. For instance there is a swimming pool of sorts for you can look at it from down up so they had to place it in first and create an extra level beneath it.

The museum showed mostly modern, contemporary art in the permanent collection. All the artist still live now and are currently still designing. The works show relevant subjects to every day matters, such as wars and waste problems. Some of the artist from the permanent collection are Ron Mueck, Leandro Erlich and Roni Horn.

I first visited the exhibition of Martin Creed, it was the special part of the museum for the time being. It all started with a room filled from the floor to the ceiling with balloons. Martin Creed ment it to be so that you could interact with the piece of art in a fun way. When you had passed the balloon room you entered a room with works of art scattered around. Some took up the entire wall, some were placed in the middle of the room, one stood all around the border of the room and a few hang up on the wall.

Every piece of art had a story behind it which you could read in a booklet during your walk through the exhibition. The stories were interesting and informative, Martin Creed wrote it himself so that the visitors were able to view his exhibition through his eyes. The little booklet also showed the route to walk which helped a lot since everything was displayed very “messy” it was nice to have something to hold on to.

The name of his exhibition is “SAY CHEESE!”. Personally I find that the name fitted very well, I assumed that the works were not specially made to be taken very serious. Some of them had a deeper meaning like the video of the disabled people crossing the street, however, most of them did not and were only made to make you happy or simply for you to enjoy the work.

My four favourite works were Work No. 1820 by Martin Creed, Work No. 2793 by Martin Creed, Pyramide de Crânes by Robert Zandvliet and Deuz Temps by Michel Francois.

Firstly No. 1820 by Martin Creed, it is made from 64 different lightbulbs in a square on a wall. When I walked in the room it really stood out to me, probably because of the lights ,however when I watched more closely I couldn’t stop looking.

The other work of Martin Creed No. 2793 is part of a two piece composition one is horizontal and with different colours, the other one of my favourites is in black and white and standing up. The work is simple splashed paint on a canvas, but he did not do it alone he let lots of people have a go with splashing some paint. What stood out the most was the motive: “The world is a mess”.

The third piece to me longer to unravel in the beginning I only saw black and white patched, weirdly I even liked that but then the different layers combined and the skulls unleashed, the way Robert Zandvliet constructed this piece was amazing, simple but complicated. That is to my liking.

Lastly a very simple work, a block of black marmer right next to a block of transparent ice. The ice is constantly changing, the marmer stays the same, it represent transience and eternity. It is not so much the blocks itself that interest me, to be fair the fact that the ice changes into a puddle of water is sort of cool, yet again the story behind it fascinates me about how some things will stay the same forever and some fade away into oblivion.

All in all, visiting the museum Voorlinden was a great experience and I looked my eyes out. I saw loads of different works of art by artists all over the world. Not all were to my liking, some really stood out. The Martin Creed composition was everything except ordinary, not all pieces were part of my taste, nevertheless did I enjoy watching the his exhibition.

Wicked 2017

During our trip to London , we visited the musical Wicked. Wicked is a story about how the wicked witch in the story of the Wizard of Oz became so wicked, it is the story of her life.

It all started when we walked into the room we sat very far in the back it was a very large theatre with a huge stage.

We sat almost in completely in the back, the actors looked like little ants. Still I was able to fully understand the storyline. That was most likely because the people on stage used very big, clear movements. The lights and music contributed greatly to the story as well, the only shady thing was that the voices sounded pre-recorded. Not that I minded that very much, it just kind of confused me.  I always like singing and dancing in a movie, this was just like a movie in real life. The story was childish, but for someone who grew up with Disney movies and still enjoys them, it was spectacular to experience.

Sadly I was not able to see the second half of the show because I did not feel well.

Cataluña 2017

During the autumn of 2017 I went to Barcelona, Catalonia on a ‘study’ week with school. I put quotation marks around study because even though the teachers set it out for us to be very informational, I was hardly like that at all.


Obviously, the teachers did their best to bring across some history and language by giving a presentation and showing a film, Pan’s Labyrinth, which is set during the civil war but does not inform a lot. It does show how a girl copes with her fears of the war by creating a magical forest world with animals who talk to her and give her missions to complete. Another thing the teachers tried was teaching us Spanish and Catalan. While we were in the bus they gave us a paper with basic Spanish and Catalan sentences on it. Catalan compared with Spanish is just like Dutch and Frisian or Flemish. It is quite similar; some words are different and pronunciation is not 100% the same. When you are driving Catalonia and are looking for directions on the boards over the roads, the first thing you read is

in Catalan right underneath it is the Spanish translation. This shows the nationalism of the Catalan inhabitants. During our stay we had like three birthdays, and that meant we had to sing. So we sang the Spanish version of happy birthday:
Cumpleaños feliz
cumpleaños feliz
te deseamos todos
cumpleaños feliz.
So clearly I know this by heart now. It is the only Spanish I know next to “Hola amigos”.

The museums we visited can also be seen as educational without a doubt but the visits did not come across like that. We had a lot of freedom; we were able to walk around ourselves and if we felt like it we had the ability join the teacher

and listen to a little tour. For example in the Picasso museum, we were given earplugs so we could walk around on our own and looking at the things that you were interested in and at the same time still hearing the teacher explaining about Picasso’s life.
It is inevitable that not all the activities are amusing because everybody’s taste is different. What kept this trip from being a bore, was the diversity. We were giving information in all different kinds of formats. We watched a film about the civil war, as I have mentioned before, we cycled through the city with a tour guide, we drew like Picasso did and to top it all off we went to a few museums.

Around the time we visited Barcelona there was some tension in the air; this was all because of the Catalan independence. The Catalan parliament had held a referendum deciding if Catalonia should become independent from Spain or not. The Spanish rulers declared it to be illegal, and the was an uprising. People went out on the streets to protest, some were done peacefully however others ended in violence. On Sunday we were in the city centre and saw many people out on the street waving the Spanish and Catalan flag. A bit later on in the week we came across some protesters again. This time they were also waving the European flag. There were groups in favour of indecency, groups against it, and groups who just wanted a conversation to take place. I do not exactly know who was on which side, but that did not make a difference. On those days I tasted a little bit of the Spanish or Catalan culture… Everyone was so passionate and wanted to convey their message. It was marvellous to see.

We saw quite a bit of the city of Barcelona, we drove through it with the bus, we cycled ourselves and walked from place to place. During that time I was capable of noticing a few differences and similarities from Breda. To start everything was bigger, houses were taller, the sea of people was larger, the offer of places to eat or shop is considerably more than at home. Also I noticed a higher number of beggars, and they were rude too, and street acts. I know that Breda is not as important and touristy as Barcelona but also compared to other cities I have been to it was more. As we were cycling through the city it was hard not to get hit by a car or hit a pedestrian. There were barely any cycle paths and cycling on the road was no option because the cars do not take cyclers in to account, and that makes for an unsafe environment. And that is nothing like in Holland.

All in all, it was an entertaining week with some cultural aspects. We learned in a different way than we do at school and that is nice for a change. Very successful according to me!