My friend and I are currently in the process of shopping for our new apartment in Scranton. Before going out to seriously look for any furniture or decorative pieces, my dad suggested that I first “shop” in the basement. We have some furniture from past houses and apartments that fit comfortably in the basement but don’t quite match anywhere else in the house. Needless to say, there are also several prints that were in my childhood home that I vividly remember spending lots of time looking at (and I really didn’t think I was going into an art field, ha!). One of these prints is Dali’s Woman with a Head of Roses.
My parents had a couple of surrealist artworks in our house growing up, now that I think about it. Many people find these kinds of works a bit unnerving, which I completely understand, but I think that since I’ve grown up looking at works like these, I’ve always been very intrigued by them. In Woman with a Head of Roses, I would spend loads of time trying to figure out just how big the women in this scene were. Was the lady with the head of roses as tall as the lion’s head in the background? How was the figure in the background so tiny? Does this scene cover a massive distance so that the lion’s head is the size of a tall building and these women are the size of regular people? I genuinely couldn’t figure it out and that made it all the more fun to look at.
A huge part of my childhood fun was spent solving puzzles and riddles in my free time, so allowing my brain to perceive something which didn’t have a concrete answer to it and was intentionally un-solvable was super fun. Following the lines on the ground of this scene as they converged in the distance, attempting to perceive how one would sit on the three-legged (and one-armed) chair, and imagining what the sun must look like in this scene for the shadows to be so defined but the sky to appear so dark. The costumes of the women fascinated me as well. The hands wrapping around the waist and wrist like statement jewelry pieces on the woman with the head of roses, the open-backed dress of the other woman with seemingly no place around the back of her neck for it to tie, and the singular red-stockinged leg with painted toenails all were delightfully strange. While some may see this as odd and anything but beautiful, I think that’s what I like the most about it! Surrealist art isn’t catering to society’s perception of what is beautiful or logical, but instead intentionally striving to take you out of reality and challenge how you think and feel about the world.
Finding this artwork again and taking more time to look at it reminded me of how it made sense why I loved looking at surrealist art as a child. The depth of imagination I had made art like this so amusing to ponder. Finding this print again showed me how I haven’t lost that sort of imaginative, logic-defying wonder that I had when looking at artworks like Dali’s Woman with a Head of Roses. I may just have to sneak this print into the apartment…stay tuned!