Salvador Dali’s painting Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man (1943) is a dynamic piece that utilizes multiple elements and principles of art to convey its meaning. Dali’s piece portrays a sense of otherworldly intrigue, if not disgust, as a man hatches from an egg that likens the appearance of a globe. In the lower right a woman and child watch on as the man emerges, the child latching onto her legs. An infant’s mobile hangs above the egg as it hatches, continuing to imply symbolism of the globe being a womb or cradle. A crimson drop of blood escapes from the hatching egg, dripping onto a pure white cloth beneath the globe. Dali captures many things in this image. His utilization of oil paint allows him to achieve delicate chiaroscuro that conveys a sense of texture and mass in the bodies of the three figures and in the rippling of cloth beneath the egg. This technique also allows for the illusion of depth when looking at the man’s left hand sinking into the soft shell of the egg he is being birthed from. Implied line is also used in this piece, as the man’s arm creates a line down toward the child, and the woman’s pointing arm directs the viewer’s eyes to the man’s protruding foot and the desolate background behind the egg. The color palette is also, predominantly, monochromatic aside from the placental blood on the white cloth, as the only other colors utilized are varying values of yellow and black. Together these elements create what appears to be a rather bleak painting. However, when one considers the content and context of the work, it may come across as more bittersweet or hopeful.
Having been painted in 1943, Geopoliticus was influenced by the events of the Second World War The monochromatic, dreary color palette used in the piece demonstrates the feelings of dread felt by people in Europe and around the world during the time. The barren, desolate background reinforces this idea of destruction and hopelessness, as the only structure seen in the piece is a single tower that appears to have been affected by an outside source (this may be seen as representative of bombings that were experienced in cities throughout Western Europe). The people in the painting, specifically the woman and small child, seem malnourished and struggling, not unlike the citizens of Europe at the time. However, despite this, there is a “new man” emerging from the world. This is symbolic because it conveys a sense of hope despite all the devastation presented in the rest of the painting. Dali seems to be saying that humanity will arise renewed from the hard times the world has been going through during the past few years, and the fact that the geopolitical child (the younger generation) is watching this reemergence is important. It implies that the younger generation needs to have hope and faith in humanity, as they will see the world emerge renewed from the depths of destruction and war, and as such need to learn from the experience.
Collectively, all the elements represented in Geopoliticus create a profound and moving image reflective of the political and social environment amid the chaos of World War II. The piece provides a small glimmer of hope in the coming years and sends a message to the coming generation that things will get better as humanity moves past the horrid events occurring at the time.
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