Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)
|Type||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||100 cm × 99 cm (39 5⁄16 in × 39 3⁄8 in)|
|Location||Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia|
|Owner||The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection|
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) (1936) is a painting by Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí. Dalí created this piece to represent the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. Painting this work only six months before the Spanish Civil War had begun, he claimed he was aware of the war in order to appear to have prophet-like abilities due to "the prophetic power of his subconscious mind." Dalí may have changed the name of the painting after the war in a manner of proving this prophetic quality, though it is not entirely certain.
Salvador Dalí and the Spanish Civil War
Dalí and his wife, Gala, were trapped in the middle of a general strike and an armed uprising by Catalan separatists in 1934, in Catalonia, and this may have influenced his Spanish Civil War motif. Salvador and Gala escaped to Paris, where they were married. Dalí and Gala had hired an escort to take them safely to Paris, but the escort died on his return because of the stresses of the Spanish Civil War. When Dalí finally returned home, his house in Port Lligat had been destroyed in the war. He was also greatly affected because his friend (and presumable lover), Federico García Lorca, was executed in the war and his sister Ana Maria was imprisoned and tortured.
This painting expresses the destruction during the Spanish Civil War. The monster in this painting is self-destructive just as a Civil War is. This painting is not meant to depict choosing sides although Dalí had many reasons to choose sides in the Spanish Civil War. His sister was tortured and imprisoned by communist soldiers fighting for the Republic and his good friend from art school was murdered by a fascist firing squad. Dalí also made this painting look very realistic and yet continued to bring in surreal concepts. Although humans do not have the potential to look like the creatures in this painting, it retains a realistic feel, reminding the viewer of the gravity of the ideas behind it. Dalí also brought ideas of tradition to this piece with a beautiful Catalonian sky, creating contrast to the idea of revolution. There are many boiled beans in this painting. Dalí is quoted as saying the reason he included boiled beans was "one could not imagine swallowing all that unconscious meat without the presence of some mealy and melancholy vegetable." By this he meant that there were many hardships in the war so the Spanish citizens had to do their best to deal with their problems. He played with themes of love, eating, and the war and how they are all related.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art: Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)
- Spanish Masterworks: Salvador Dalí's "Construcción blanda con judías hervidas"