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The Hallucinogenic Toreador Essay Sample

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The Hallucinogenic Toreador Essay Sample

“What in the world is that supposed to be?” This is what I find to be my reaction when I look at Salvador Dali’s paintings. Perhaps you’ve thought the same way about other artist’s paintings, perhaps Picasso. The interesting things about Dali’s paintings are that most of them have more than one meaning and every time you look at the painting you notice something different. For this paper we will go on a journey and try to figure out what Dali was thinking while painting, The Hallucinogenic Toreador.

In the painting there is a fairly small color pallet considering all the things painted. Dali used the colors: blue, green, white, red yellow and, black. Dali also uses several different shades and highlights of each of the previous colors to add effect and detail to his painting.

In the Hallucinogenic Toreador you will find all kinds of eye catching images. One of the first things you notice in the bottom half of the painting is this weird square/rectangle made up of several colorful dots. Just below that you notice there is a bull’s head drinking from a pond, then you relive that the dots are in between the bull’s horns. What the heck is the meaning behind the square made of dots? While you’re asking yourself that question you will notice there is a little boy looking towards the pond and in front of him is a single file line of giant flies, then you notice that there are a ton of flies painted throughout the painting. Oh gosh, there are already so many images in this painting, but there are oh so more. In the top portion of the painting it appears to have the background as if you were inside a Coliseum. There are several floating statue heads with a colorful aura around them, and there is even a head of a man, perhaps Dali? There are also random floating flowers on a mountain. There are even more flies throughout the Coliseum.

You will also see a white patch with a green stroke in the middle of it. Next to the white patch you will see the same type of patch but it is all red. Upon looking really hard, you will notice that they both form something. The one side is a man with a white shirt and green tie, the other is a woman in a red dress. Their faces are hidden in the ground of the Coliseum and statues. Wait, is this the main image or is the bull? Now that I noticed the faces, I began to look for more hidden images and I see another animal by the pond, except it is walking away from the pond, not entirely sure of what the animal is. Though it is not hidden you also will notice a canvas in the bottom corner of the painting that has a naked woman drawn on it.

I’m still not sure if there are more hidden images in this painting or not, but I’m still trying to figure out if the bull and his weird colorful dot square are the central image or the man and woman.

I keep searching this painting; it is a little bit invigorating and fun, kind of like I Spy but with a painting. By far this is one of my favorite paintings, for some reason I look at it and smile, just thinking about the sheer genius it would take to create a painting like this. I would defiantly like to get to the bottom of this painting and perhaps figure out what the other animal is, who the faces are, if the random floating man’s face is Dali, and what the overall point of this painting is.

Upon doing some online research I discovered that the painting style is Surrealism and was painted with oil. I also find that it is not a Coliseum but a bull fighting arena. And the floating heads and statues are Venus de Milo, which are seen a total of 28 times. I also learned that the white, green and red patches, were the statues dresses. The man is the Toreador and the Woman is Dali’s wife and apparently she has the look of condemnation on her face, apparently Dali loves bull fighting but his wife Gala hates it. It also turns out the flies and the red dress have another purpose. The red dress is also the Toreadors cap which is draped over his right shoulder and the flies to his left make up part of his sequined jacket. Turns out the bull isn’t drinking from a pond but yet it’s a pool of its blood and he bull is dying. The floating flowers on the mountain are to represent Dali’s studio in Rosas. Apparently I am not seeing what Dali wanted me to see because the other animal in the painting is a Dalmatian and his head is pointing towards the pool of blood/pond not away. The canvas in the bottom corner of the painting f a naked woman is supposed to represent Dali’s art school days. The colorful dot square turns out to be a molecular diagram and represent Dali’s interest in Atomic science.

While I was reading about the meaning of the different images I learned that Dali painted the statues and floating heads of Venus because it was a brand of coloring pencil. The painting also took 16 months to complete, started in the year 1969 finished in 1970. I discovered that he had a deep love for bull fighting and the landscape depicts where he was born.

After learning about this image and reading about all the meaning behind the images, I learned that I really enjoy art, but I sure as heck don’t know what Dali is trying to tell me in his painting. I never would have guessed square dot thing was a molecular model, I thought for some reason the bull just had a fancy magical headdress. I also never would have guessed the pond was a pool of blood. So…please don’t count on me to ever explain a painting, ask a curator. I would also like to highly recommend that you go see The Dali museum in Florida, it is packed full of paintings and you can see the The Hallucinogenic Toreador in its full glory.


The Hallucinogenic Toreador by Salvador Dalí. (2000, October). Retrieved November 15, 2012, from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/6/5/ac-0605_article.htm#suggestedcitation

The Hallucinogenic Toreador. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2012, from http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/salvador-dali/hallucinogenic-toreador-1970

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