Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

Reader 1

Mary MacNaughton

Reader 2

Juliet Koss

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Rights Information

© 2012 Stefanie Saperstein


From 1927 through 1939, Salvador Dalí went through an arduous artistic pursuit to visualize his perspective on reality. Dalí’s inter-connected visual and verbal process lasted for over a decade, during which he went from confronting reality to accepting that the world is an irrational paradox. This study asserts that his investigation took him from the fragmented images of cinema to the metamorphic shapes of the ‘soft and hard’ and ultimately to a series of multiple images, which envisioned his paranoid-critical method. In his 1930 article “The Rotting Donkey,” Dalí wrote, “I believe that the moment is near when, through a process of thought of a paranoiac and active character, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality.” By 1930, Dalí knew he wanted to completely “discredit” the world and he saw Albert Einstein’s space-time and Sigmund Freud’s discovery of the unconscious as proof for the existence of a new dimension of experience. In 1933, Dalí found further evidence for his viewpoint in Jacques Lacan’s writings on paranoia. While Dalí wrote of and incorporated Einstein’s, Freud’s and Lacan’s ideas into his art, he came to his own conclusions on reality, which he gave form to in his artworks. To illuminate Dalí’s creative process this thesis will examine Dalí’s infamous film Un chien andalou (1929), his iconic painting The Persistence of Memory (1931), and his under-appreciated masterpiece The Endless Enigma (1938), as he visually expressed his changes in thought most clearly and convincingly in these three works.