Salvador Dalí frequently described his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs.” He based this seaside landscape on the cliffs in his home region of Catalonia, Spain. The ants and melting clocks are recognizable images that Dalí placed in an unfamiliar context or rendered in an unfamiliar way. The large central creature comprised of a deformed nose and eye was drawn from Dalí’s imagination, although it has frequently been interpreted as a self-portrait. Its long eyelashes seem insect-like; what may or may not be a tongue oozes from its nose like a fat snail from its shell.
What’s Freud Got to Do with It?
Salvador Dalí was very interested in Sigmund Freud’s writings on psychology. An Austrian psychologist writing in the late-19th and early-20th century, Freud revolutionized the way people think about the mind with his theory of the subconscious. The subconscious is the part of the psyche that thinks and feels without the person being aware of those thoughts and feelings. According to Freud, dreams are coded messages from the subconscious, and Surrealist artists like Dalí were interested in what could be revealed by their dreams.