The Swallow's Tail

The Swallow's Tail

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The Swallow's Tail

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The Swallow's Tail — Series on Catastrophes () was Salvador Dalí's last painting. It was completed in May 1983, as the final part of a series based on René Thom's catastrophe theory.

Thom suggested that in four-dimensional phenomena, there are seven possible equilibrium surfaces, and therefore seven possible discontinuities, or "elementary catastrophes": fold, cusp, swallowtail, butterfly, hyperbolic umbilic, elliptic umbilic, and parabolic umbilic.Thom, René, Structural stability and morphogenesis. an outline of a general theory of models, (D.H.Fowler, trans.) (Reading, Mass. London. Benjamin. 1975). Originally published in French as Stabilité structurelle et morphogénèse, 1972. "The shape of Dalí’s Swallow’s Tail is taken directly from Thom’s four-dimensional graph of the same title, combined with a second catastrophe graph, the s-curve that Thom dubbed, "the cusp". Thom’s model is presented alongside the elegant curves of a cello and the instrument’s f-holes, which, especially as they lack the small pointed side-cuts of a traditional f-hole, equally connote the mathematical symbol for an integral in calculus: <math>int_^</math> ."King, Elliott in Dawn Ades (ed.), Dalí (Milan: Bompiani Arte, 2004), 418-421.

In his 1979 speech, "Gala, Velázquez and the Golden Fleece", presented upon his 1979 induction into the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts of the...
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