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Basket of Bread, Just Under the Crust

Basket of Bread, Salvador Dali 1945

Fractal Loaf of Bread with cross, Mandelbulb 3D

There have been whole studies done on Dali's bread, there can not be enough said to adequately describe its importance. Bread is used in many Dali paintings, for different reasons, from the overtly sexual "Ordinary French bread with Two Fried Eggs, without a Plate, on Horseback, Trying to Sodomise a Crumb of Portuguese Bread…", to the religious use of the Eucharist in the tabernacle of the christ childs chest in "The Madonna of Port Lligat". For a good general overview of Dali's use of bread in his paintings, read Julia Pines essay, "Breaking Dalinian Bread: On Consuming the Anthropomorphic, Performative, Ferocious, and Eucharistic Loaves of Salvador Dalí" I advise anyone interested in Dali to read it here;

Below are remarks about Dali's amazing Basket of Bread from 1945. I will delve Just below the Crust following those remarks.

From Wikipedia;

 Basket of Bread (1945) or Basket of Bread-Rather Death Than Shame is a painting by Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí. The painting depicts a heel of a loaf bread in a basket, sitting near the edge of a table. Dalí's use of bread in his paintings is much more than a staple of one's diet. In this case, to understand Dalí's message, one must look at the political context at the time of the painting, his progression as an artist, his societal beliefs and how bread is used in the painting.

"Bread has always been one of the oldest subjects of fetishism and obsession in my work, the first and the one to which I have remained the most faithful. I painted the same subject 19 years ago. By making a very careful comparison of the two pictures, everyone can study all the history of painting right there, from the linear charm of primitivism to stereoscopic hyper-aestheticism."[1][2] 

At 22, Dalí spent four months on the 1926 painting The Basket of Bread, of which he explains: "by the power of its density, the fascination of its immobility, creates the mystical, paroxysmic feeling of a situation beyond our ordinary notion of the real. We are at the borderline of dematerialization of matter by the sole power of the mind."[3]

The subject of this article, painted and completed in Monterey, California in 1945, he described to Luis Romero as "the most esoteric and the most Surrealist of anything I have painted to date,"[4] where the painting is even more dynamic by having the basket of bread placed on the edge of the table, giving a strong sense of forthcoming "borderline of dematerialization" than the painting of 1926.[3]

Dalí writes in the Bignou Gallery of New York catalogue that he painted Basket of Bread in two months, when "the most staggering and sensational episodes of contemporary history took place" and finished "one day before the end of the war".[5]

The painting's subtitle "Rather Death than Shame" takes on special significance during this time period. The basket is precariously situated on the edge of the uncovered table, against a starkly black backdrop, an omen to its own sacrificial destruction.[5]

The painting was also said by Dali to have been painted the week the atomic bombs fell on Japan. "My objective was to arrive at the immobility of the pre-explosive object", Dali reveals.[2]

In the 1940s, William Nichols, managing editor of This Week, saw an artist's work in an art gallery. Finding the piece, a painting of a loaf of bread, one of the most charming paintings he had ever seen he printed it in his magazine giving the artist in question his first mass audience. This Week Magazine, a syndicated Sunday magazine, at one time had a circulation of 15 million, the biggest in the world.[4]

Ah, Dali – playing with us again! And that’s OK. Because it is something of an enigma to see such a classical-looking, utterly calm, decidedly non-surrealistic oil on panel emerge from Dali’s studio. This delectable picture – which looks good enough to eat! – could just as easily have been painted by Zurburan, LaTour, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Velasquez….the list goes on. [6]


1 Descharnes, R (1985). Salvador Dalí. Abrams. p. 94. ISBN 0-8109-0830-1.
2 a b Leith, A (6 October 2002). "How Dali Transformed Dough Into a Surreal Slice of Life". The Independent. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
3 a b Havard, R (2007). The Spanish Eye: Painters and Poets of Spain. Chippenham, Wiltshire, Great Britain: Antony Rowe. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-85566-143-1.
4 a b c Etherington-Smith, M (1995) [1993 (Random House)]. The Persistence of Memory: A Biography of Dali. First De Capo Press. p. 300. ISBN 0-306-80662-2.
5 a b c Pine, J. "Breaking Dalinian Bread: On Consuming the Anthropomorphic, Performative, Ferocious, and Eucharistic Loaves of Salvador Dalí". Issue no.14: Aesthetes and Eaters - Food and the Arts. University of Rochester, NY. Retrieved 03-10-11.

6 Chimera, P

In the 1950's Dali declared he had always been painting Rhinocerous Horns. I am here to tell you he had always been painting Bread. Dali's Basket of Bread, as seen above, is every elbow, and every knee that Dali ever painted. Dali would tell me that on a beautiful woman, in a crowded room, the universe could revolve around her knee. The world revolves around Dali's bread, which is not just elbows and knees but the arms and legs of The Specter of Sex Appeal, the melting watches in any number of paintings and last but not least, Gala, Gala is Dali's divine bread.

The loaf of bread in the 1945 Basket of Bread, is an undulating explosive force. Within it belies the math of atomic force. It is the undulating abdomen of a queen termite. It is the extended skull needed to make room for his own fertile imagination. The magic in this painting is its seeming simplicity. In my version I have made visible all the geometry, fluid and chaotic motion, and the potential of there being much more than meets the eye.

I have chosen to depict all of this by utilizing fractals for every instance. Every element in the picture now has a mathematical and fractal element. The background, which Dali chose to depict in a plain flat black is anything but plain. I have used a Mobius Dragon IFS to depict not only the fluid motion of air currents that lie just beyond the perception of out normal senses  but the chaotic convulsive motion of the atomic cloud or volcanic eruption. The simple kitchen table of Dali's version has been enhanced with the pattern of a Menger Sponge. This fractal adds almost infinite surface area to a space, which expands the importance and capability of the table to support the basket and bread. Dali's simple wicker basket hides how geometric and precise it is. I have replaced the basket with a fractal dodecahedron, where every elbow is constructed of yet another dodecahedron. Dali n this work payed homage to Euclid in hiding his platonic solids in the masterpiece. I have decided to put this one, squarely on display. Last but not least is the bred, knee which the universe revolves around, Gala and extended cranium of Dali's imagination. Dali's crust is smooth hiding the nuclear math it holds, wher my bread is a 3 dimensional fractal. Every inch covered and derived from the complex math Dali's version only hinted at. The Mandelbulb 3D generated loaf has anti gravitational crustules and even a cross, bringing forward the Eucharistic value of Dalinian bread. This crust is formed and alive with every geometric and fractal design imaginable, depicting the inherent potential of Dali's Bread of the 1945 Basket. I give you THe Basket of Bread, Just Under the Crust, so that everyone could see what the artist intended in his simple , yet potent still life.

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