The Endless Enigma
Dalí and the Magicians of Multiple Meaning
Edited by Jean-Hubert Martin. Essays by Elisabeth Bronfen, Dawn Ades, Stephan Andreae, Claudia Dichter and Karin Rührdanz.
Fascinated by optical phenomena and curious to explore the limits of picture making, painters share a long history of creating visual puzzles, composite pictures with shifting perspectives. Ambiguous images whose various levels of meaning depend entirely on the observer's point of view have drawn more than a few painters' brushes over time. This rich volume is dedicated to that multifarious tradition, from early Indian and Persian miniatures of imaginary anthropomorphic landscapes, to Giuseppe Arcimboldo's pictures of the seasons, and finally the works by the great surrealist masters Max Ernst and Salvador Dal', encountering along the way such diverse artists as Francis Picabia, William Hogarth, Leonardo da Vinci, M.C. Escher, Tony Cragg and Kara Walker. Dal', whose work is at the center of this book and gives it its title, came up with no less than seven strata of perception for his work The Endless Enigma, in which parts of the picture merge into ever-new scenarios depending on the individual area the viewer chooses to focus on. A unique presentation of ambiguous pictures that originated in different cultures and epochs, The Endless Enigma: Dal' and the Magicians of Multiple Meaning reveals the enormous complexity of this artistic phenomenon, underlining the meaning of the method of seeing and discovering.