'Christus Hypercubus' - Salvador Dali

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-05-30 03:00

'Christus Hypercubus' - Salvador Dali. Reportedly Ayn Rand's favourite painting -- and also, coincidentally, one of mine. It was one of the first prints I bought as a teenager, some years before I encountered Rand, and it hung on my wall for many years before I could give voice to the feelings it arounsed. I rated Dali, still do, and this to me seemed head and shoulders above all his other work -- and it still does.

But what about the religiosity? Well, that never struck me as an issue any more than it does with Michelangelo's 'Pieta' or Bernini's 'David.' This is a great, powerful and awe-inspiring piece of art. For Rand, it represented man-worship -- the presentation of an ideal -- and for Dali too apparently: the main figure is larger than life and seemingly immune to pain or destruction; a figure incongruously without pain or fear or guilt. The figure at left is Dali's wife Gala, who looks up at the Christ figure with the look of literal man-worship Rand sought to convey in her writing. If Rand did have a question about the religious aspect, it would be this: "How can you worship the torture and destruction of that which you revere above all?" Fair question.

If there is a Rand scene that this most resembles it would be the 'torture scene' in which the victim, Galt, rises above his torturers even as they run screaming from what he has made them realise about themselves -- as this does. And for a text, from Rand's Anthem, the creed of the independent man:

I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.

Apparently Rand would head down to the Met and stare at this painting for hours. I know just how she felt.

TAGS: Art, Objectivism, Religion

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