Salvador Dalí, ‘Celestial Elephant ’, 1979, New River Fine Art

Salvador Dali featured animals with great frequency in his works. Surrealism explored the human subconscious, the world of dreams, and it was fertile ground for portraying recurring images in one’s nocturnal cinema of the mind – which frequently includes animals. While many animals that appear in Dali’s oeuvre, the elephant was a favorite of the artist's - perhaps because he actually owned one. His pet elephant, Susurus, was housed at the Barcelona Zoo.

In Celestial Elephant,the essence of surrealism is abundantly and colorfully evident:an elephant weighing tons is supported by spindly, birdlike legs. While it is an undeniably whimsical sight, Dali clearly intended to elicit a fantasy seen only in one's dreams. Trumpeting cherubs announce the arrival of this magical animal while the ever present "Little Salvador" makes his way across the landscape where, in the background, another figure grasps the famous crutch.

Signature: Signed, lower right.

About Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí was a leading proponent of Surrealism, the 20-century avant-garde movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious through strange, dream-like imagery. “Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision,” he said. Dalí is specially credited with the innovation of “paranoia-criticism,” a philosophy of art making he defined as “irrational understanding based on the interpretive-critical association of delirious phenomena.” In addition to meticulously painting fantastic compositions, such as The Accommodations of Desire (1929) and the melting clocks in his famed The Persistence of Memory (1931), Dalí was a prolific writer and early filmmaker, and cultivated an eccentric public persona with his flamboyant mustache, pet ocelot, and outlandish behavior and quips. “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure,” he once said. “That of being Salvador Dalí.”

Spanish, 1904-1989, Figueres, Spain