Hi everybody. Old fans and friends of mine might remember that I used to make a daily Snapchat story featuring daily pieces of artwork that I found interesting. I retired it in 2021 I believe after growing rather exhausted with constantly posting and feeling like I had nowhere left to go with the project.
Well, say no more. Because Daily Art is back! This time we’re going to be exploring a lot more than paintings, I’m interested in analyzing everything from sculpture to architecture to performance art to even film! I’ll have a post up daily with a quick summary of the work and what it’s all about. Once a week I’ll also have a special bigger post. This post might contain audio from yours truly, video analysis of a piece, or even interviews with experts on the creator. So, for the first installment of Daily Art Reborn I would like to start with TWO pieces. Let’s go!
The Atomic Age
So, we all know this painting right?
Even if you don’t know the name of it, you have almost certainly seen it before. It’s a painting as iconic as the Mona Lisa or Starry Night. That’s right, it’s The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)! But, we’re not here to talk about this painting, not in a traditional sense. For did you know that it has a sequel?
This is The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1954). Just a small 25.4 × 33 cm. It at once strikes familiarity yet also stuns with an odd discomfort that I don’t think the original one provides.
It’s at this point that we need to understand the context in which Dali created this work. Dali had begun to reject the surrealist movement that he helped pioneer and turn towards fields of natural science. Dali even condemned the surrealist movement to “at least have served to give experimental proof that total sterility and attempts at automatizations have gone too far and have led to a totalitarian system.” Something like that.
Regardless, science and mathematics were Dali’s passion now. For example, in a lot of paintings in this era we see the proliferation of images of DNA and rhino horn shapes.
However the topic of interest that most struck Dali’s fancy was that of the atom. World War II had scarce ended when Dali began painting picture showing floating atomic particles and references to quantum mechanics.
That’s Galatea of the Spheres (1952), an example of Dali’s blend of classical mythology with the nymph Galatea being broken down into atomic parts.
In the Surrealist period, I wanted to create the iconography of the interior world and the world of the marvelous, of my father Freud. Today, the exterior world and that of physics have transcended the one of psychology. My father today is Dr. Heisenberg.”Dali
This now brings us back to the Disintegration. What fascinates me the most about this work is the way that we see Dali implicitly reject the past while still taking elements in. The Persistence had a soft, dreamlike quality to it and an almost kind of magic to the melting landscape which it contained.
Meanwhile, Disintegration takes that softness and throws it out the window. What once was soft curves is now hard, stiff edges. What used to be a gentle landscape is now rigid floating pieces of metal. It’s fascinating that just as the atomic age is beginning to take over the consciousness of the public, it also seems to take over the past as well. Everything is broken down into those small pieces as a symbol of the changing times. What’s most interesting is the implication that surrealism could no longer maintain itself in this new age, and that old works like the Persistence had essentially fallen apart in the face of new revolutions.
But, what do you think?
Warning: There are spoilers for this film. Be advised, watch it before you read or don’t. I can’t control you! Anyway, I’ve provided a summary down below as well.
First of all, I thought the cinematography of this film was fantastic. There are a lot of brilliant long tracking shots where we see the characters move in one continuous motion throughout the grimy streets and interiors of the urban landscape. I also thought that the dialogue between the three was a brilliantly accurate dialogue of the way that three close friends talk to each other, argue and joke to the point where it felt like it was just a documentary rather than actors. Something else I also appreciated is the pacing of the film. There are a lot of quiet moments of just walking around chatting followed by brief sporadic moments of violence then back to the quiet moments. It builds up tension until the inevitably climax where you finally think things are resolved only for it to come crashing down.
This is one of the most powerful films that I have seen in a long time. The film starts with the three main characters Vinz, Said and Hubert waking up the day after one of their friends has been severely beaten by the police and the riots that happen afterwards. They end up hanging out together, getting into trouble, talking about women and farts and so on while generally getting into trouble. Throughout the whole film Vinz and Hubert are constantly at odds with each other in regards to violence as Vinz craves killing a police officer with his gun and Hubert advocates for non violence as “hate breeds hate.” Said acts as the moderate force in between them as the three constantly find new things to do. They constantly are confronted by the police and run away barely in time to escape. It begins with a rooftop party they’re at being interrupted, followed by their arrest for trying to see Abdel in the hospital and then later fleeing from the police after a violent fight breaks out. After the fight breaks out where Vinz nearly shoots an officer, they end up on a train to Paris. Once they’re in Paris Hubert and Said end up being arrested after an encounter to pick up Said’s money from Hubert goes wrong. Vinz is the only one who escapes and wanders around Paris. witnessing a genuine murder committed his friend who is refused entrance into a club. Eventually the three of them fight off a group of skinheads and Vinz holds one of them hostage, with Hubert pushing to see if Vinz is truly a murderer. Ultimately Vinz relents and lets the skinhead free. When all seems well and they finally arrive home from Paris, an officer who had been constantly taunting them from before arrives and assaults Vinz when his loaded gun ends up going off. The film ends on an ambiguous note as Hubert in a fit of rage points his gun at the officer as the officer does the same and a single gunshot is heard….
La Haine is ultimately a film about violence. It’s a film about the ways that violence permeates through each of these three characters lives weaving in and out. They can choose to seek it out or they can choose to avoid it but it’ll always come back to find them. The way this film builds so much tension in how it forces us to watch time tick away, causing us to say to ourselves “so far, so good. so far, so good”. But we know that something must collapse in on itself and by the end it does. There is a strength to the way that these three characters try to elevate themselves above the violence yet fall back down again and again, becoming another statistic, another incident, another number to greater society. Ultimately the final words of the film are the most poignant. It’s about a society in decline and nobody is safe from the fall.