Where do we go when we sleep? This has puzzled philosophers for centuries. Begging the question this week was the sight of Donald Trump nodding off during jury selection at his hush-money trial.

Caught on paper

Longtime courtroom sketch artist Christine Cornell, who captured the ex-president asleep, told Erin Burnett on CNN of the moment that led up to the snooze:

“Trump was beside himself,” she said when a prospective juror spoke of photographing New Yorkers celebrating Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Cornell said that Trump began muttering loud enough for presiding Judge Juan Merchan to admonish him.

At that point, she observed him tilting his head back and shutting his eyes to the world around him.

Newscasters like Lawrence O’Donnell at MSNBC took Trump’s action to mean he went to sleep. Consciously or not, it came off as an effort to escape.

Cornell’s sketch of the shut-eyed Trump calls to mind similar states pictured in art history. I’m thinking of Louise Bourgeois’ 1944 drawing “Sleeping Man.” Like Trump, this figure takes to napping sitting up.

But that comparison falls apart because Bourgeois’ image doesn’t look agitated like Trump's in court. Regarding a fretful-looking sleeping figure, only one artwork equates - Salvador Dali’s 1937 painting “Le Sommeil” (Sleep).

Being the Surrealist that Dali was, he regularly freed his images from their usual association.

And by defying logic that way, he created a new reality. Isn’t that what Trump is known for – alternate realities?

In Dali’s painting, you see a large rubbery-looking head, similar to one of those helium-filled balloons at a Mac’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held down by ropes.

“Le Sommeil” also appears held down. And with its annoyed face, the head suggests irritation at being held down.

Again, Trump comes to mind, given his resistance to gag orders.

In your dreams!

Dali famously described his work as “hand-painted dream photographs.” The quote takes us back to the “where-do-we-go-when-we-sleep" question. Was Trump dreaming some alternate reality in the courtroom?

According to biographer Merle Secrest’s 1986 Book “Salvador Dali,” he dreamed not only of making the irrational real but also of making a lot of money.

And to hear her tell it, he stooped to all kinds of schemes to make that happen. Who does that remind you of?

Dali raked in a reported $10 million by selling his signature on blank pieces of paper. He signed a reported 17,000 blank sheets in 1976 and 1977.

All of which gave rise to a $1 billion fake print industry. You can also read about this in the 1992 book “The Great Dali Art Fraud and Other Deceptions” by Lee Catterall.

Counterfeit prints by Dali are so numerous that the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, declines to attribute anything he did after 1980.

And Sotheby's and Christie’s in London are so skittish about the authenticity of Dalli’s prints that they won’t put any on the auction block except etchings rendered in the ‘30s.

Clearly, Cornell’s courtroom sketch of the sleeping Trump evokes more than Dali’s painting “Sleep.” The ex-president’s illegal ways and means make him a latter-day version of the artist – minus the wax mustache.