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A Closer Look at S. Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador

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The piece I am analyzing is The Hallucinogenic Toreador by Salvador Dalí, painted with oil on canvas in 1969-1970. It is one of his monumental pieces, measuring at 157 x 118 inches. The piece is all about Unrequited Love, inspired by the Venus de Milo and Manolete, the toreador killed by a bull during a fight. The painting itself looks very colorful and chaotic. Standing back, you are able to see Manolete made up with the shadows of the Venus statues. His tie, shirt, and jacket are made up of the statues drapes. The Venuses themselves are in a diagonal line, becoming larger in size as they approach the right side. The two in the forefront are facing towards the viewer, while the rest are looking backwards. As your eye moves down the painting, you see a bull with colorful polka dots radiating out of it. The bull appears to be drinking from a pool of water that, when you look closely, you see a sunbather floating around in. At the edge of the pool, there is another Venus, a part of another diagonal line of them that leads to a young boy in blue. Also at the edge of the water is a figure that appears to be a dog. Going back to the young boy, if the viewer guides their eyes above him, they will see an older woman’s face, two Venus faces, and two roses scattered about. And finally, at the top of the painting, we see a bull fighting ring, covered in dots that appear to become flies. Venus statues are at every column. And, in the top left corner, we see the face of a lady. Every time the viewer looks are this painting, they will find something new, another

You might ask yourself why this piece is about unrequited love. It has three elements that contribute to this. The first is Manolete and the bull. Manolete was adored by the people of spain, and he was tragically killed during a bull fight by this bull, and after that, he was unable to be loved by the country that loved him so much. The next element is the Venus de Milo statues that are scattered throughout the painting. Her lack of arms symbolizes how she cannot give nor receive love. The final element of unrequited love in this piece is the boy in blue at the bottom right corner and the women in the top left corner. The boy symbolizes Dali in his youth, and the woman is Gala, his wife. The distance between them in the painting represents how they are growing apart in their love.

One of the most attractive parts about this painting are the warm, inviting colors. It draws the viewer in. The right side of the painting of deeply warm colors, from the pinkish orange or the arena to the shocking red of the Venus statues drape. Many of the objects on this side are outlined with yellow or orange. The left side, on the other hand, is full of cool colors; everything has a purplish-blue haze about it. This serves as a contradiction not only between Manolete, on the right side, and the bull on the left, but also for Dali on the right and Gala on the left. This reinforces the theme of unrequited love.

While The Hallucinogenic Toreador is a complicated and beautiful painting, it encaptures many elements. With the language of colors and symbols, he tells a great story of unrequited love in many forms: With a bull fighter loved by his country brought to an untimely death, to the sad story of a fading love. This is a painting that all can enjoy, and every viewer will see something unique.

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A Closer Look at S. Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
“A Closer Look at S. Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
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