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The Great Masturbator: Why We Keep Obsessing Over Dali?

The Great Masturbator by Salvador Dali is a famous painting of a male and female figure, but it has caught the attention of the world. Dali is an interesting figure himself, but his famous painting and its popularity lead to one question: why do we keep obsessing over Dali?

The painting, currently on display at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, has a distorted human face that is looking downward at a rock formation. The painting gets stranger as you find the nude female figure rising from the back of the head near what is a male crotch. The center of the painting suggests that fellatio may take place.
We also see a swarm of ants, which Dali used as a way of representing sexual anxiety, and there’s also a grasshopper, which is seen in many of his other works.

Dali Himself is an Interesting, Weird Person

Dali, from an early childhood, seemed different. The master of Surrealism is an eccentric, and there tends to be a lot of longevity in being eccentric. A person who is eccentric is hard to forget, and this is one of the reasons that Dali remains a household name today.
The artist fully believed he was the reincarnation of his brother, and his parents actually named him Salvador after his decreased brother.
While he stole his wife from a friend, he also loved money and would star in commercials, further enhancing his fame. He designed the logo for Chupa Chups, and he was known to have had weekly parties. 

But these were no ordinary parties.

Dali is said to have had weekly orgies, and Gala, his wife, encouraged the painter into an open marriage. While he held the massive parties, one documented by Cher, it is said that he never participated in the events.
He watched, but he did not partake in the orgies he held.
Sex was a central figure in his life, and it is this central figure that led to the Great Masturbator and Dali’s masturbation addiction.
If you dig into Unspeakable Confessions, you’ll find that Dali believed he was impotent. He turned to masturbation for gratification, and it is believed that this gratification may have lasted a life time. Some surmise that masturbation was the primary sexual activity he enjoyed and it may have been the only sexual activity that he really liked. 
The Great Masturbator reflects Dali’s struggle with his sexual life.
Some accounts suggest that the artist was a homosexual, and others claim that he feared female genitalia. There are also rumors of him asking an art historian to masturbate while he watched, and while the account may not be true, we do know that Dali’s famous orgies had him watching rather than engaging in the sexual activities that took place.
The Great Masturbator is a depiction of all of the quirkiness and oddity that surrounded Dali. As an eccentric, he was able to draw in crowds and even perform stunts to help his popularity rise.
But today, he remains a central figure in the art world.
Perhaps it is the Surrealism style that he mastered that brings people to his galleries, or maybe it’s the fact that sex has also remained somewhat of a taboo. Dali was definitely pushing the limits of society at the time with his works, and the Great Masturbator is the perfect display of the struggle with sexuality that many people have.
Sex brings crowds, and the Great Masturbator allows viewers to reflect on the eccentric lifestyle that Dali maintained throughout his life. Maybe it’s the beauty of the painting, perhaps it’s the question of what Dali had going through his mind at the time or maybe it’s a reflection of the sexual struggles that all humans battle with to some extent.

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