Self Portrait with the Neck of Raphael

Self Portrait with the Neck of Raphael

Salvador Dali is one of the most interesting characters in history due to his larger than life personality. Though his surrealist paintings are extremely memorable Dali is also memorable for stirring the pot, for being unafraid, for being unapologetically eccentric and inherently rebellious, for actually embodying surrealism.

Self Portrait with the Neck of Raphael symbolizes a humble Salvador Dali.  The light colors which make up the backdrop of the painting give a feel of calm which is a strong juxtaposition to the man who seemingly lived life as a party.  His heavy eyelids symbolize his sleep deprivation and the shadows used by his smudging reflected from the neck up are symbolic of the nights now engrained upon him.  Perhaps the public knew Salvador Dali in a different light, perhaps Dali was tortured himself as other great artists were and chose to “put on a good face.”  Self Portrait with the Neck of Raphael is a brave representation.

His discolored skin and slight sneer symbolize the idea of himself, as he was a very handsome man.  For someone so concerned with appearances the natural settings symbolize his natural light, his truth. Dali was very influenced by the renaissance period, and thought himself to be a free-thinker, as well as a painter. This self-portrait has enigmatic color schemes common of the period, but Dali’s narrowed stare, surrealistic dream-like purple hues surrounding him and pursed big lips meant for attention, are outweighed not only in texture, but presence by his long neck.

The long neck, not only presented in the title of the piece, but in the actual painting itself stands on its own.  Surrounded by natural hues, he has great distance from the town across the water which could be pin-pointed as distance from his people, but his stance is too strong, and in him (at least in this painting) is a sense of responsibility.  Even giving ode Raphael Barradas, a fellow artist, is responsible, it represents loyalty for another craftsman.  For an artist to openly emulate and even attach their features to another artist is a high compliment, and requires a healthy ego.  Long necks have a special place in many cultures. Throughout history, the Mother Mary was painted with a long neck eliciting her grace and elegance.  Giraffes depend on their survival with their long necks, and in their movements create many shapes of stride.

In the Self Portrait with the Neck of Raphael, his body is turned but his long neck allows him to look forward. This is a good representation of a balanced throat chakra. The blocked throat chakra fears, and not only judges themselves but others as well.  Placed between the head and the heart, the neck is a vessel for creativity. The healthy exposed throat chakra symbolizes honest communication. It embodies the ability to speak one’s mind and the ability to help others find their own voice. As Artists have often called themselves, “instruments,” or “vessels” so is Dali expressing the usage of his spiritual entity.  Despite the fact that he is put down as a surrealist on many occasions, he was an artist of his own, influential, brave, and deliberate, as he once stated, “The difference between the surrealists and me is that I am a surrealist.”