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Obscure Objects of Desire Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics$
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Johanna Malt

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253425

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253425.001.0001

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Windows: Painting and the Fetish Surface

Windows: Painting and the Fetish Surface

(p.180) 6 Windows: Painting and the Fetish Surface
Obscure Objects of Desire Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics

Johanna Malt

Oxford University Press

This chapter goes on to look at a rather different set of artistic works, namely the paintings of Salvador Dalí from the inter-war period, asking whether they enter into or stand outside the fetishistic processes they portray. The presentation of the surface of the painting as transparent, as a window through which one looks out on (or into) the landscape of the mind, distances the painting from its own status as a material object, complicating the way it participates in its own fetish dialectic. In order to sustain such an argument, it is essential to recognise surrealist works as always threatened by the fetishising forces they represent. Their status as critical responses to the capitalist commodity society is precarious, but at times also powerful. It is in their binding of sexual and commodity fetishism in a dialectial relation that they are able to illuminate both.

Keywords:   paintings, Salvador Dalí, window, material object, fetish dialectic, fetishism

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