“Giraffe on Fire” or, as this painting is also called, “The Flaming Giraffe” is one of the most famous and important works for the great surrealist. This painting was painted in 1937 before the emigration of the artist to the United States in a surreal style.
This picture resonates in a special way with another canvas of the great artist – “The Creation of Monsters”. In the opinion of Salvador Dali himself, these two paintings are a kind of warning about an imminent war. It is characteristic that in both paintings there is an image of a giraffe with a burning back.
The contrast of the bright red flame with the blue sky emphasizes the particular tragedy of the piece. The aquamarine blue overall tone of the painting makes it quite effective. The combination of red and blue shades plays a special role in the color scheme of the canvas. This grabs the viewer’s attention and makes them anxious.
When looking at the picture, attention is drawn to the central figure of a woman who stretches her arms forward. The blood on the woman’s face and forearms prevents us from seeing the features of her face. The pose of this woman is filled with helplessness and despair in front of the inexorable approach of some kind of danger.
Behind there is almost a silhouette of another woman. She holds a piece of meat in her hands, by this the artist wanted to show the weakness and desire of humanity for self-destruction. A kind of props, often used in the works of Dali, and personifying the depravity and weakness of a person, are depicted behind both figures.
The figure of the burning animal is made much smaller than the figures of women; it is, as the author himself put it, “a male cosmic apocalyptic monster” and, undoubtedly, the main central image of the picture.
With the mood of this picture, Salvador Dali very well managed to show his premonition of a war inexorably approaching the world. Although Dali talked about his apoliticality, with this picture he demonstrated the struggle against his country.
Year of painting: 1937.
Dimensions of the painting: 35 × 27 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Genre: symbolic painting.
Gallery: Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland.