After the Second World War, Dali converted, by his own account, to mysticism. The beginning of the Atomic Era strongly influenced his thinking and led to a strong spiritual foundation for his paintings which he made with a great appreciation for the classic art of painting. The temptation of Saint Anthony originated from an entry for a film poster competition. It shows Dali’s nuclear mysticism in all its fierceness. A naked St. Antonius wards off a frightening rearing horse with a sword, which, standing on legs as thin as gossamer, defies the laws of gravity. The Saint tries not to be seduced by the earthly temptations, symbolized by the horse as a symbol of power, followed by almost floating elephants which carry on their backs symbols of lust and greed. Here Dali dovetails with the classical painter's theme, which had been used by the painters Bosch and Breugel: Dali’s surrealistic predecessors. Dali, though, let the frightful temptations act in an alienating world between heaven and earth. However, this levitation will later reappear frequently as a theme in his work.
ABOUT THE ART PERIOD: Dali sublimated his life in his art of painting. He lifted surrealism, in an inimitable self-willed manner, to exceptional heights. He photographed, as it were, what was enacted in his mind. Incited by, at the time, new psychological insights he tried to fix his subconscious with images, and to visualize his dreams in all their inscrutable symbolism. It was for this purpose that he developed his famous paranoid-critical method. To us, one dimensional mortal souls, only the paintings and other expressions remain as fascinating witnesses to a literally unbelievably intense and active life. Perhaps we are so drawn to them because not only do they allow us to have a look inside Dali’s subconscious, but they also are a mirror reflecting our own souls.