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Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man – Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

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Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali was born in 1904 in Spain. He was treated like royalty by his poor parents as they thought of him as the incarnation of his brother who had died 9 months before Salvador’s birth. This constantly reminded him of death later resulting in his obsession with death as seen in many of his artworks including one of his most praised ‘The Persistence of Memory’.

Dali was highly talented and produced very sophisticated drawings from an early age. He studied painting in Madrid and the Metaphysical School of Painting founded by Giorgio de Chirico which had an important influence on Dali’s paintings. He developed his own style, using strange objects from his fantasy worlds in weird juxtaposition.

Dali is considered one of the most important artists of the surrealist movement. For fourteen years Dali employed all the common features of surrealism; many of his paintings also include the techniques of impressionism, cubism, futurism and classicism as seen in ‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the new Man’.


There would’ve been a varying audience for this artwork; patrons of surrealist pieces, political audiences of the world war and historians. In this artwork we see Dali’s reaction and views on the world war at the time.

Today this painting could be accepted as America is considered the power of the world, during the 1940’s however Europe was considered the power. This painting could’ve offended many people and forced them to accept a different view.


Dali’s ‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man’ is very symbolic like most of his surrealist paintings. It focuses on a rebirth. This painting depicts the violent birth of ‘the new man’ from a globe in the shape of an egg, emerging as the new power of the world. It records his shifting perception of WW2 at the time in Europe. Although the war’s impact on Dali has been expressed in some works before ‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man’, this painting shows a new, more philosophical classicism.

His left hand is crushing Europe (England) as he struggles to break through the egg, signifying the end of the old world and birth of the new world. Another symbolism of new worlds and old worlds are the woman (said to be androgynous) and child in the bottom right corner. They are classical figures compared to the ‘new man’.

The man’s pose is very graphic; his body is curled in a position of a fetus, but his arms and legs are fighting to come out.

On the egg South America and Africa are enlarged to represent the growing importance and recognition of the third world. South America droops while Africa cries a tear symbolizing the pain and sadness of the countries.

The child plays a very important role in this painting as shown by the longer shadow cast by the child than the mother. As the mother disdainfully points at the man, the child cowers at the mother’s feet, afraid but curious. The child is like those of us who are aware and becoming aware of the significance of events such as the problems in developing countries. The child represents the new world also, being the future generation it is influenced by this birth.

The central event of the birth is protected by a parachute-like, floating drape representing the placenta. Observed with the cloth under the egg creates an oyster formation-it opens out to present Dali’s pearly image. The drape however creates a scary atmosphere with its spider-web like edges flowing down almost creating a cage around the egg shadowing the painting. This along with the flow of placental blood from the egg crack represents the consequences and pain that will come from the new world. The mother and child seem oblivious to the drape giving a ghostly character to it.

The background has been skillfully set out, successfully framing the artwork. The left side of the background has been taken from Raphael’s ‘Marriage of the Virgin’, and the right from studies of John the Baptist. He effectively uses chiaroscuro to bring in our focus to the more important images in ‘Geopoliticus child watching the birth of the new man’.

The egg in the painting is surprisingly like the candy-shaped pebbles on Playa Confitera, his favorite beach as he was a child, suggesting the figurative rebirth of Dali himself. Alike most of his other paintings, it includes a personal and a social dimension.


‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man’ was painted during a time when Germany was falling and America was rising in the war. American solders were seen as a sign of hope in many countries. This painting shows the birth of this new hope and sign of ‘peace’.

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