Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí employed the Paranoiac-critical method to paint Invisible Afghan. The method, which Dalí developed, enabled him to enter a “paranoid” state, altering his perception of reality to gain inspiration for art. He often referred to his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs.”
In this work, Dalí uses optical illusion to embed several images within images, a technique he used often. Images above create at least four different scenes: people siting beside rocks on a beach with an island on the horizon, a face staring at the viewer, a bowl filled with fruit, and a barely visible Afghan Hound standing upright.
The full title of the work takes in all of these views: Invisible Afghan with the Apparition on the Beach of the Face of Garcia Lorca in the Form of a Fruit Dish with Three Figs. “The Face of Garcia Lorca” refers to Federico García Lorca, a famous poet and friend of Dalí who died during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Dalí completed the work two years thereafter at the height of his popularity. That year, Dalí met his lifelong idol Sigmund Freud, whose psychology influenced many of his works. It was two years removed from Dalí’s appearance on the cover of Time Magazine and seven years after he completed his most well known piece, the iconic Persistence of Memory.