Salvador Dalí’s Art and Writing

Module code: SP3175

Module co-ordinatorDr Anna Vives

Module Aims

This module will focus on the art and writing of Catalan artist Salvador Dalí from the 1920s to the 1980s. Despite his megalomaniac personality and his dubious flirtation with Fascism, Dalí’s impact in our society remains rather unparalleled as proven by his broad presence in current mass culture. Drawing upon a range of materials, students will learn the intricacies of Dalí’s work and life well beyond his pictorial legacy.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will have gained a sound knowledge about a number of pictorial, literary, autobiographical and cinematic works by Salvador Dalí. You will learn about the place he occupies in the Catalan and the international avant-garde as well as about his contribution to 20th and 21st century art and society. In the process of studying this controversial artist you will become especially acquainted with surrealism and with the socio-political situation of modern Europe. You will ultimately be able to provide informed opinions, orally and in writing, about a variety of aspects of his work including violence, narcissism, self-representation as a genius and mass culture.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Each new topic will be introduced by a lecture, followed by seminar presentations and group discussions.


  • Essay of 2,500-3,000 words (60%)
  • In-class presentation (15%)
  • Two-hour examination (25%)

Topics covered

  • Dalí’s violent muse: Surrealism and the aesthetics of objectivity
  • Dalí’s narcissism and the paranoiac-critical method
  • Dalí’s self-representation as a genius: from Lombroso to Nietzsche
  • Dalí and the politics of extremes: from the far-left to the far-right
  • Dalí and science: Physics and Mathematics
  • Dalí and mass culture: cinema and advertising

Recommended background reading

  • Ades Dawn: Dalí (Thames & Hudson, 1982).
  • Robert Descharnes and Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí, 1904-1989: The Paintings (Taschen, 2001)
  • Haim N Finkelstein: Salvador Dalí’s Art and Writing, 1927-1942: The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (Cambridge University Press, 1996).