Salvador Dali's Christ of Saint John of the Cross - Analysis
Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí, 1951
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
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St John of the Cross
The 16th century Spanish mystic St John of the Cross had a vision that he had translated onto paper. He had drawn the crucifxion from an unusual angle and when Salvador Dali saw this drawing, he was inspired. The Christ of St. John of the Cross is the result.
The Point of View
We have seen many pictures of the crucifixion but never one from this point of view, have we? Well, the regulars are from the POV of the worshiper, but Dali's is unique. He has rendered his crucifixion from the point of view of God!
It's like God looking at His Son, after the mission is accomplished. This POV serves another purpose, too. Given that it is God's view, we see Jesus as the bridge between God and the mortal world, represented by that seascape below. This painting is surreal because Dali has mixed two perspective angles. The seascape is in our eye-level, instead of following the angle of the cross and showing a bird's eye-view of Golgotha.
The Geometry and its significance
This painting, viewed from afar, will take the shape of an hourglass, which could stand for time: an inverted triangle for the crucifix, and an upright one caused by the lighting below. It balances the composition.
The Christ and the cross forms the triangle of the Holy Trinity, with Christ's head a circle in the centre of the triangle, extending to mean that He or His act is the centre and meaning of everything in the universe; He is all that you need to realize. The arrow points to earth, meaning that this is God's gift to mankind.
Insights from In The Doghouse
By noticing the inverted triangle that is formed by Christ and the cross, I have been reminded that the inverted triangle is a symbol of the condescension that a God made to atone for the world, or man. Basically, it is heaven pointing toward earth.