Swans Reflecting Elephants is similar to a brain teaser, or an optical illusion, which is what Dali was aiming at when he painted this piece. At first glance, the painting seems to consist of three swans sitting on a lake. They are surrounded by leafless trees, suggesting that the painting takes place in autumn, and some cliffs, and a few stray clouds drift across the sky. Despite the washed-out appearance of the colors, it is a very serene image. However, the closer that one looks at the painting, the more of the subject matter that they can make out. While the image is clearly that of swans sitting on a lake, a second, more closer examination of the piece reveals that the swans and the trees behind them reflect elephants on the lake. The bare trees become the legs of the elephants and the swans become their trunks and bodies. The perfect placement of the trees and swans allow for this double image, essentially offering two paintings, or two stories, in one. In his Swans Reflecting Elephants, Salvador Dali wanted to show that life is not always what it seems at first glance. His use of the double image, with the swans fading so seamlessly into elephants, reveals that our perception can pick up on aspects or features of life that are not immediately recognizable. This is similar to finding constellations among a smattering of stars, or picking out images or designs in the stucco of walls. Our eyes are capable of finding more than just the original image. Furthermore, Dali gives evidence.
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