|Courtesy of www.dalipaintings.com|
Between the years of 1946 and 1958 (AFTER world war two), the United States conducted 23 nuclear tests at the Micronesian atoll, Bikini. The tests caused the radioactive contamination of the entire system of islands. The (roughly) two hundred Micronesians who inhabited the islands were relocated by the US before the tests, and eventually brought back in 1968. The US lost a lawsuit to the Micronesians in the amount of $100 million when it was discovered, ten years later in 1978, that the levels of radioactivity were still dangerously high.
These experimental explosions on the atoll of Bikini inspired Dali to paint the Three Sphinxes of Bikini. Dali himself was a surrealist painter. If you look at the point of view of expressionism, then paintings in general are supposed to
emphasize the expression of inner experience rather than a solely photographic portrayal of reality. It is subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist. In surrealism, it goes one step further:
it's the unconscious that is emphasized, and paintings express the workings of the mind by using symbolic imagery and interesting juxtaposition of the subject matter.
The painting consisted of one head, one tree and one nuclear mushroom. The head might represent humanity, while the tree represents nature and mushroom cloud represents destruction. When nuclear exploded, the tree was the one closest to it then come to the head, which could mean that impact on nature is far greater than the impact on humans.