The Swallow's Tail illustrates the transition from one state to another and was a way for Dali to capture how he himself would soon be part of a dramatic transition - from live to death.

Resilience research inspired by Salvador Dali

Dali's last painting, The Swallow's Tail

Dali's 1983 painting, which was his last work before his death in 1989, was inspired by Rene Thoms catastrophe theory on abrupt behavioural changes.

"The Dali painting captures the hysteresis curve, the very core of resilience thinking, illustrating flips from one basin of attraction to another, flips that may be irreversible or at least very difficult to reverse. Dali, deeply interested in chaos theory, used this curve in his last painting in 1983 to capture that he himself would soon be part of such a dramatic transition - from life to death," says Carl Folke, Scientific Director at Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Integrates science with art
He finds Dali's painting to be an inspiration point for several aspects of resilience research.

"The Dali painting is a source of inspiration and captures the integration of science and arts and the search for understanding the unexplored. The curve has also inspired research on social-ecological transitions, transformations and governance, all core areas for the Stockholm Resilience Centre,"he says.

The hysteresis curve has been applied in resilience work to analyze regime shifts or shifts between different basins of attraction like coral vs algal reefs, clear vs muddy lakes, grasslands vs shrub landscapes, shifts in ocean currents, regions like Sahara and the implications of such shifts for economics and policy.

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201