An Analysis of Leda Atomica
What I find fascinating about Leda Atomica is that this piece illustrates Dalí’s great understanding of both philosophy and science. In his own words, Dalí states that this painting connects to “intra-atomic physics.” Leda, the swan and all of the objects are suspended, and as we view it, our thoughts are subconsciously suspended as well. This is quantum physics- things are not always as they appear and matter is not grounded. The objects also do not touch one another. This is atomic physics- matter is not purely solid as atoms do not touch each other. Matter in itself is also much more connected to the human psyche than is believed. In the eyes of Dalí and the surrealist thought, this hyper-reality symbolizes a greater, more beautifully complex, multiform world.
There is one particular interpretation of the suspended objects that spoke truth to me. Dalí author and expert Robert Descharnes said, “The myth now means the exact opposite, for the state of levitation in which we see the woman and the swan stands for purity and sublimation.” As the ‘Leda and the Swan’ myth has been recounted through art and writing for centuries with the seduction and rape of Leda by Zeus, it does seem that Dalí is turning this idea on it’s head, throwing an entirely different spin to the story. As we view the swan to Leda’s left, it is the closest object to her proximity, her hand nearly embracing its head. Whereas much of traditional art has shown Leda and the swan in a state of entanglement, Dalí purposefully separates the two thereby I believe he “reverses this meaning in Leda Atomica.”
As for Descharnes’ note on “purity and sublimation,” in my opinion the sacred technique utilized in this painting spoke to this. Leda and the swan are positioned inside a pentagram. “The upward point of the star is representative of the spirit. The other four points all represent an element; earth, air, fire, and water. All these things contribute to life and are a part of each of us.