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Dali: Psychoanalysis Visualised

The Letter, Issue 5, Autumn 1995, Pages 108 - 128


Sandra Carroll

The only meeting between Salvador Dali and Sigmund Freud was organised by Stefan Zweig in London in 1938. When Dali visited Freud in London he showed him the painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus[1] and was purportedly told:

It is not the unconscious I seek in your pictures, but the conscious. While in the pictures of the masters...that which interests me...seems me, is precisely the search for unconscious ideas, of an enigmatic order, hidden in the picture, your mystery is manifested outright. The picture is but a mechanism to reveal it.[2]

Afterwards, Freud wrote to Zweig:

I have been inclined to regard the Surrealists as complete fools, but that young Spaniard with his candid, fanatical eyes and his undeniable technical mastery, has changed my estimate.[3]

Dali's comment on the meeting was that Freud's cranium resembled a snail.[4]

Freud's interest in the creative artist is evident throughout his published works:

...creative artists are valuable allies and their evidence is to be prized highly, for they are apt to know of a whole host of things between heaven and earth of which our philosophy has not yet let us dream. In their knowledge of the mind they are far in advance of us everyday people, for they draw upon sources which we have not yet opened up for science.[5]

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