Wednesday, 19 October 2011

"The world is your lobster!?!"

Surrealism was born in the 1920s as a reaction against Futurism. It promoted irrational ideas - a dreamlike combination of reality, fantasy and the subconscious.

Salavador Dali became a spokesman for the Surrealist art movement, and he, like his work, was original, daring and bizarre.

One classic, standout Dali piece is Lobster Telephone, 1936. He was interested in the Surrealist object and felt he could express his subconscious desires through these oddly juxtaposed objects - to Dali, lobsters and telephones had implications of a sexual nature.

Furthermore, he was influenced and involved in fashion and design - collaborating with Elsa Schiaparelli, an Italian fashion designer. Again, the lobster makes an appearance in one of their well known collaborative pieces Lobster Dress, 1937 - a white silk dress emblazoned with an image of a lobster, painted by Dali. Again, the lobster had erotic connotations for Dali and Schiaparelli, and ironically, the dress was once worn by Wallis Simpson in some official photographs, prior to her marriage to the Duke of Windsor. The photographs tried to portray Simpson in a more flattering and romantic light to the general public, but unfortunately this was at complete odds with the sexual tension suggested by Dali and Schiaparelli through the lobster print. (Blum, p135)

Although, the dress may seem quite tame in comparison to today's fashion - it was fresh, new, quirky and exciting in it's day - perhaps the antithesis of Coco Chanel's classic style. Dali and Schiaparelli's pieces were extremely forward thinking and contemporary and would certainly not be out of place in the present day. Their pieces hold some bizarre familiarity and perhaps, this is because their influence can be seen through modern day fashion, including Philip Treacy's Telephone and Lobster hats, worn by the somewhat "surreal" icon, that is Lady Gaga... Surrealism lives on!

The Tate (2008) Salvador Dali, Lobster Telephone London: The Tate
(Available from: (accessed on 19/10/2011)

Blum, D. (2003) Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli. London: Yale University Press

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