SCULPTURE TRAIL - SALVADOR DALI
Born in Figueres, Spain in 1904, Dalí joined the Surrealist group in 1929 and became one of its leading exponents. Renowned for his technical skill and striking and bizarre imagery, his artistic repertoire included painting, graphic arts, film, sculpture, design and photography.
His best-known work, ‘The Persistence of Memory’, is one of the most famous paintings of all time. His life and work were an important influence on other Surrealists, pop art and contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
The three Dalí bronzes have all been kindly loaned by Dalí Universe, a Swiss-based company, and have never been exhibited in the UK before.
‘Surrealist Piano’ is a five-metre tall, monumental piece, conceived in 1954 and first cast in 1984. Dalí transformed the piano by replacing the traditional piano legs with those of a dancer, booted and capped by a frilled skirt. Dalí often transformed everyday articles into phantasmagorical objects. Adding human characteristics to objects is typical of Dalí’s oeuvre and he explored this notion in particular with furniture and musical instruments. Perched on top of the piano is a golden ballerina who reaches out in a way that mirrors the shape of the piano lid.
Dalí used the image of the piano consistently over the years in his paintings and real-life pianos in several of his installations, choosing the figure of the piano joined with a female body as part of his installation ‘Dream of Venus’ for New York’s World Fair in 1939.
‘Homage to Terpsichore’, stands at 3.75 metres, was conceived in 1977 and also first cast in 1984. Terpsichore is one of the nine muses in Greek mythology and was the goddess of dance and chorus. In his representation of Terpsichore, Salvador Dalí uses a reflected image, setting the soft, carnal muse against her ‘shadow’, the hardened, statuesque one. The elegant, sensuous figure of Terpsichore morphs into a geometrical body with sprouting branches. The two dancing figures make a striking composition, juxtaposing the classical with the cubist. Dalí profoundly admired and respected Classicism and was also familiar with the techniques of Cubism pioneered by his contemporary Pablo Picasso. The dancer with the smooth and classical form represents Grace and the subconscious. The other angular, abstract figure represents the ever-growing and chaotic rhythm of modern life.
‘The Dalinian Dancer’ exhibits Dalí’s fascination with the art and spirit of dance, which was of great significance in his life and provided inspiration for his artworks. In particular, he adored the quintessentially Spanish dance form of the flamenco. Salvador Dalí was attracted to the passion and movement of the Andalusian flamenco, known for its ability to explore the full range of feelings and emotions.
Elements of flamenco can be seen in this sculpture; the ruffles on the dress, its low neckline, and the hair pulled back in a bun. Dalí seems to capture the sense of movement perfectly. The dancer twirls around in a display of vitality and ecstasy, the layers of her skirt flaring out as she moves. The heaviness of the bronze contrasts with the lightness of the vibrant dancer. The faceless figure, a recurring motif in Dalí’s work, lures us in with her intense rhythm.
Image: The Dalí Universe A.I.P. Spain
Surrealist Piano – Shrewsbury Castle grounds
Homage to Terpsichore and The Dalinian Dancer – Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
Poise and Tension III and Exploration of Flat Land– The Dingle Garden, Quarry Park