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The Hallucinogenic Toreador

Artist: Salvador Dali
Created: 1969-70
Dimensions (cm): 292.0 x 402.0
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA



Salvador Dali painted The Hallucinogenic Toreador as a retrospective look at his life and art. By incorporating many of the symbols and images portrayed in previous works, Dali comments on his career and on the influences and ideas which helped shape his art. The Hallucinogenic Toreador was created over a period of fifteen months.

As is common in Dali's work, this painting plays with illusion. The breast and torso of the double image of the Venus figure form the nose and mouth of the toreador. Venus' white dress doubles as the toreador's shirt and tie. The secondary image of the 'invisible' toreador can fade in and out of the observer's line of vision, but its presence in the image is haunting.

Throughout the painting, Dali makes reference to images which appeared in his earlier works. Venus makes a second appearance, as does the Voltaire bust, the rose of passion, and the female peasant in the foreground. One repeated image, the boy in the sailor suit, is meaningful as it represents the artist himself.

Beyond the personal references, The Hallucinogenic Toreador explores greater themes and makes broader cultural references. The theme of heterosexual love and desire pervades the work as Venus represents classic femininity while the toreador is a symbol of extreme masculinity. The dead bull signifies the theme of putrefaction. The still-life on the chair is a reference to a cubist painting. The tiny figure on the raft is a comment on the newly developing tourism industry in Dali's home region.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador explores numerous themes and symbols which have appeared in many of the artist's previous works. By revisiting these images and ideas, Dali emphasizes their significance.

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