J. G. Ballard’s lost Salvador Dali billboards

Just yesterday the Guardian published an article of mine in which I talk about how J. G. Ballard’s very early and lesser known Project for a New Novel (1958) billboards seem to represent encrypted Salvador Dali paintings. In short, I focus on how Ballard uses the headlines, the shaped blocks of text (taken from scientific journal articles) and the whitespace in order to create an imaginary artwork which the viewer must visualise. He does this by providing the viewer with fragmentary shards from his stories: titles, characters, phrases and objects, many of which would not appear within his fiction for years to come. The billboards are in line with Ballard’s fascination with and his inspiration by the surrealists (especially Dali) and their ideology: their want for reinvigorating the imagination, and unleashing the creative potential buried deep in the unconscious. These fascinating billboards expose that Ballard was, even at his creative genesis, toying with the malleability of text and language, and experimenting with how they can function when transposed into the realm of pure image (recalling the text-centric paintings of Magritte, another of his primary artistic influences). Below is a select few of Ballard’s billboards and the Dali paintings which they appear to mirror:


  1. Ballard’s ‘mr f’ billboard and Dali’s ‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of New Man’ (1943)

2. Ballard’s ‘T-12’ billboard and Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ (1931)

3. Ballard’s ‘beach fatigue’ billboard and Dali’s ‘Mediumnistic Paranoiac Image’ (1935)

And one of my own Ballard inspired billboard designs:


4. My Ballard inspired billboard based on Dali’s ‘The Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ (1937)



4 thoughts on “J. G. Ballard’s lost Salvador Dali billboards

    1. Thanks cake. Ballard’s influence by the surrealists was enormous, I’m constantly coming across allusions in his written work to very famous surrealist artworks, I find it fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

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