Room 8: The accomodations of desire

Salvador Dalí, ‘Lobster Telephone’ 1936
Salvador Dalí
Lobster Telephone 1936
© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2018

In parading aspects of desire normally considered taboo, Salvador Dalí pushed the boundaries further than any other. His paintings express genuine obsessions and fears, and demonstrate his textbook knowledge of Freudian theories about the sources of such psychological problems. Masturbation, incest and fetishism were among the areas he explored. Working with director Luis Buñuel, Dalí transferred his explicit subject matter to the realm of film. In the most famous sequence of Un Chien Andalou (1928), a woman’s eye appears to be sliced open with a razor. Riots greeted the opening of L’Age D’Or (1930), an outrageously blasphemous film which was subsequently banned.

Artists also explored perversion through the medium of the surrealist object - a sculpture made from unlikely, found materials. Dalí’s Lobster Telephone (1936) is a classic example. Another is Meret Oppenheim’s Object (1936). In covering a cup, saucer and spoon with gazelle fur, she turns an everyday piece of crockery into something totally unexpected, playful and potentially perverse.