Great masturbator by Salvador Dali

Great masturbator by Salvador Dali

“Great masturbator” is a self-portrait. Dali’s head resembles a rock that was near his house, and is depicted so on some canvases dating from 1929. The picture reflects Dali’s fear of sex and disgust for him. In part, he blamed the negative attitude to sex on a too obvious book that belonged to his father and dedicated to sexually transmitted diseases, which he read as a little boy.

The head is depicted as “soft”, as if deformed when touched; she looks tired, sexually exhausted. Under the nose, a grasshopper, whose abdomen is covered with ants, crawls over the face where

the mouth should be. In early childhood Dali feared grasshoppers, and the appearance of one of them alludes to hysterical fear and loss of voice or self-control.

The woman emerging from the head pulls her lips towards the man’s torso. The cut legs of the man bleed, hinting at the fear of castration. The woman’s head is cracking, indicating that the image created in Dali’s imagination will soon fall apart. As an echo of the sexual theme here appear the stamen of a lily and the tongue of a lion.

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