Franz Jozef Ponstingl (1927-2004), An Archaeological Find, 1962, Oil on board, 18 x 24 inches, Collection of John Munice.

The early 1960s was a prolific period for Franz Jozef Ponstingl (1927-2004). During this time, he explored Surrealist themes in his work. He was fond of the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and made a trip to New York City to see his work, The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Similar to other Surrealist artists, Ponstingl would use his dreams as inspiration for his work. Occasionally, Ponstingl would make notes about what he dreamt the night before and then turned his ideas into artwork, calling them “dreamscapes”. He eventually became so skilled at remembering his dreams that he no longer needed to wake up to document them and fill his notebooks.

You can see the influence of Salvador Dalí on Ponstingl when you look at The Persistence of Memory. In this work, Dalí includes unrealistic images (the melting watches, the fleshy creature) painted with incredible detail and a sense of realism. Surrealist artists often created playful and sometimes scary artworks by putting objects next to each other that you wouldn’t expect!

Take a look at Ponstingl’s work, An Archaeological Find (above) and compare it with the work of Dalí. What do you see? How is it similar or different to the work of Dalí? Is there anything that is realistic or unrealistic? Does it remind you of anything? The subject matter might be difficult to understand, but like Dalí, it is painted with incredible detail. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Did You Know?

The goal of Surrealism was to reveal elements of the “unconscious,” a deep layer of the human mind that holds memories and basic instincts and combine them with subject matter from real life. Surrealism was influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Two broad types of Surrealist art existed, one style similar to the dream-like works of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, and the other including the automatism or free association style of Joan Miro and André Masson. These artists minimized their control and concerns regarding beauty and used instinct and chance to create their work. Do you let your mind wander and doodle? If you do, then you are drawing like a surrealist!

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Come explore Ponstingl: Dreams of Past Futures to see more works by Ponstingl. The exhibit is open through June 20th.