Esp | Eng


In Voluptas Mors

In Voluptas Mors
In Voluptas Mors (English title: “Voluptuous Death”),  a surrealistic portrait by Spanish artist Salvador Dalí, made in collaboration with photographer Philippe Halsman (1951). The image depicts Dalí posing beside a giant skull, a tableau vivant (or “living picture”) comprising seven nude female models. Halsman took three hours to arrange the models according to a sketch by Dalí.

What at first may appear to be merely an example of memento mori (Latin for “remember (that you have) to die”) is actually a more complex fusion or interplay between notions of “sex” and “death”. The depiction draws upon the symbolic tradition of vanitas (from the Latin literally meaning “emptiness” or “insubstantial”), an artistic style which served as a reminder of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty or inevitability of death. What is unusual here is the incorporation of voluptas or voluptuousness (expressed through the female nudes — “Voluptas” being a character in Greek mythology, daughter of Eros and Psyche, and goddess of “sensual pleasure”) within the physical constitutive structure of the symbol ofvanitas itself(the human skull). The image presents a fusion of eros(erotic or sexual love) and thanatos (death) in a single object (therefore, in voluptas mors — quite literally one finds “death in the voluptuous”).