The Enigma of Hitler – Salvador Dali

Feb 19 2011

As surreal art sells high on Google today, I’d like to share some some pipings about one.


The Enigma of Hitler by Salvador Dali

The wilted tree of life with branches cut off represents the material plane not being rooted in the life. This is emphasized by one end of the tree being cut off in the painting.
Hitler is represented as a torn photo. There are several peculiarities to note. Only this object has a recognizable face in the painting. It is an image within an image. Hitler is drawn in a style more real than the entire painting. The painting is in a surrealist style, while Hitler is drawn as in a photo.
The plate itself is surreal. It could represent an amphitheater, as a reference to where echoes make reality. Most people who have not seen Hitler have a common image conjured. He is in fact a dictator everyone has experienced in their personal life, whether in practicing self-control or in their desire for mastery.
Another way to look at this is as the metal plate behind a speaker. Either way, Hitler has a hypnotic influence on the crowd by the way he uses words.

The circular cycle

The bat aims at Hitler, which leads to the bean. The bean is reflected on the tree of life, representing moral decay. The bean is hung as a hat on the tree, from which a large drop of water, perhaps a tear, is about to drop onto the plate. The result is reflected outside the plate. We could say the result was already there before the plate appeared on the scene. If the plate is to represent Hitler’s ability to control minds, then the he speaks to something already within the surreal landscape of people’s minds.

The Figure and Umbrella

Who is the shadowy figure emerging out of the transparent umbrella? In the context of the painting, she would represent society. Around the time Hitler comes to power, unemployment skyrocketed. The primary purpose of society is to provide support, a way of life, for everyone. When this is not fulfilled, many plow deeper to look for black, furtive soil to plant seeds of hope. This comes in the form of a plate with Hitler on it.
Hitler had the answer to everyone’s problems, a typical answer. It’s commonly repeated in textbooks, “the Jews”. Just how did this insanity get out of hand? It’s a collective insanity, so common that if you did not agree with it, you could be killed. If everyone else believes in it, then it must be true.
This is the food backed with logic, brain food, which Germans at the time feed on. At this moment, the result has already happened in. Great Sorrow crystallizes as the raindrop. Seemingly out of nowhere.
The fact is that there is an umbrella and that the woman, representing society itself, could shield the drop of water from the plate. This reflects the fact that society is often able to shield the sorrow behind the collective illusion. A clear example can be seen in the case of communism. The idea behind communism is that a communal heaven emerges in the future by sacrificing the present. When an entire country believes in it, the country is under the rule of a dictator shielded by an umbrella.
they do not notice their own poverty.
They do not notice their own poverty. They lived in poverty, and did not know it.

. . . When you know yourselves, then you will . . . But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.

3 responses so far

  • Erik B. Anderson

    The tour guides at the Dali exhibit in Philadelphia 2005 told us that the umbrella figure represented Neville Chamberlain and the phone represented the phone used to negotiate the first truce between nations that was done via telephone. Neville Chamberlain was in the newspapers and on the newsreels at that time carrying an umbrella, but it was a false truce because Hitler invaded Poland right after he told Neville Chamberlain he wouldn’t. This was such an embarrasment to the Prime Minister of England that it led to the election of a new prime minister, Winston Churchill.

    And Dali made this dark painting about it.

  • yuguang

    Art is always created at the subconscious level and only an iceberg at the conscious level. Given a historical event, no two painters can paint them the same. Great art is able to communicate the same message to everyone, because it expresses an idea. 
    Hitler told lies to gain power. He became the chancellor through repeating lies until everyone believed in them. People around him said he had a hypnotic quality, which apparently worked with the Prime Minister of England. 

  • Antony Palmer

    A ludicrous analysis wrought from the coals of a liberal education. In reality this painting is a sympathetic view of Hitler hence the title of the picture – Enigma. Nothing is as it seems. The Hitler portrait is set at such an angle to represent the discarded nature of his treatment at the hands of the establishment. Neville Chamberlain’s famous prop umbrella is hanging. This symbolises Chamberlain’s exit from the political stage. He has been usurped. The damaged telephone dripping tears represents Hitler’s desperate calls to London and Chamberlain to try to control the Bolshevik Jews slaughtering ethnic Germans in Poland. Chamberlain had successfully managed the Sudetenland crisis and resolved it allowing the ethnic Sudetenland Germans to be joined with Germany and escape the clutches of the Bolsheviks murdering them. The artificial nation of Czechoslovakia had been broken up along ethnic lines as it rightly should have. Unfortunately the warmongers in London led by Churchill had forced Chamberlain to sign a military defensive pact with Poland one week before the Bolsheviks started murdering ethnic Germans in Danzig and elsewhere. Unfortunately his calls were never answered. The war Judea had publicly declared on Germany in 1933 would now come to pass.