Rarely have two concepts that a priori may seem so unconnected have worked in a perfect conjunction as art and science do in this work by Salvador Dalí. Atomic Leda's canvas reflects some of the disparate concerns or anxieties that often tormented the mind of this artist, and yet Figueras's takes care of all of them in a small vertical format canvas to reconstruct an allegory of love.
Salvador Dalí (1904 – 1989) is one of the most outstanding artists of the 20th century and perhaps the best exponent of the surrealist avant-garde of all time. Born in the Catalan town of Figueras, the artist combines in his productions a masterful command of drawing with a brilliant color that transports us to a dreamlike and interior world.
The first notes and versions of this work would date back to 1945, although the definitive canvas was not completed until four years later, in 1949. During these years, Dalí made endless sketches and preparatory drawings in order to capture his canvas the atomic theories, for them Dalí turned to the mathematician Matila Ghyka to whom he was united by a deep friendship during his time in America. Also from this period is the artist's growing obsession with the classical world: the myths and Renaissance art of the Quattrocento and Fifties are a constant at this stage.
From the union of all these elements we find aa canvas on which Gala, Dalí's muse, has been transformed into the young Leda, daughter of the king of Sparta with whom Zeus fell deeply in love and became a swan in order to seduce the young woman on her wedding night. Leda gave birth to two sets of twins, some men -the fruit of her marriage- and other demigods due to her adventure with Zeus. All this is reflected in Dalí's canvas.
Gala occupies the central space of composition, she appears seated on a throne with an unstable posture and her feet resting on two pedestals that float in the air. With her hand she caresses the long neck of a swan while around her various objects -a bible, an egg shell, drops of water…- float maintaining an equal force of attraction between them than the composition of atoms. The scene takes place in a maritime landscape of the Catalan coast where she, even to the sea, projects her shadow on the sand by remaining floating.
Dali's work is the perfect synthesis between science and art, but also it is an allegory of his love for Gala since the artist himself explained how the attraction that he felt for his muse went even far beyond physical contact, a love so strong that it was on a higher plane than carnal, and yet the allusions to sexuality and phallic symbols on Leda's canvas are more than evident.
Currently the work is kept in the Museum of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.