Day Opening - December 23
Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)
1954. Oil on canvas, 194,5 x 124 cm.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. gift of Chester Dale, 1955
When disembarking from the steamship America in Le Harve on March 27, 1953, on his return from New York, Dali announced to the reporters gathered around himself termed as sensational: an exploding Christ, nuclear and hypercubic. He said that it would be the first picture painted with a classical technique and an academic formula but actually composed of cubic elements. To a reporter who asked him why he wanted to depict Christ exploding, he replied, "I don’t know yet. First I have ideas, I explain them later. This picture will be the great metaphysical work of my summer."
It was at the end of spring in 1953 in Port Lligat that Dali began this work, but it is dated 1954, the year which it was finished and then exhibited in the month of December at the Gallery in New York. The painting may be regarded as one of the most significant of his religious oils in the classical style, along with Madonna of Port Lligat, Christ of Saint John of the Cross, and The Last Supper, which is in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
"Metaphysical , transcendent cubism"is the way that Dali defines his picture, of which he says: "It is based entirely on the Treatise on Cubic Form by Juan de Herrera, Philip II’s architect, builder of the Escorial Palace; it is a treatise inspired by Ars Magna of the Catalonian philosopher and alchemist, Raymond Lulle. The cross is formed by an octahedral hypercube. The number nine is identifiable and becomes especially consubstantial with the body of Christ. The extremely noble figure of Gala is the perfect union of the development of the hypercubic octahedron on the human level of the cube. She is depicted in front of the Bay of Port Lligat. The most noble beings were painted by Velázquez and Zurbarán; I only approach nobility while painting Gala and nobility can only be inspired by the human being."