Surrealist Furniture

During the 1930's, Dalí continued his creative search for new ways to express himself artistically. He developed a friendship with Jean-Michel Frank, a renowned Parisian furniture-maker and decorator of the time. Together they collaborated on several ideas, transforming everyday practical objects into ones of indeterminate use. The culmination of which was a Surreal Room which was originally laid out in the London home of Dalí's great patron, Edward James.

The artwork Mae West Lips Sofa reverses Dalí’s usual paranoiac-critical method of attempting to see images within objects. Dalí began his point of reference with an actual image, Mae West’s sensual lips, and created a functional object. The actress Mae West was renowned more for her voluptuous figure and her risqué one-liners than for her acting skills, and Dalí, with his great skill for publicity and maintaining his place in the public eye, paid homage to her with this inspired and original sofa. The first sofa was constructed in Paris in 1936, under Dalí's supervision, based on his original sketch. The upholstery fabric was in Elsa Schiapparelli's "shocking pink". Such is the popularity of this piece of furniture, that it has become instantly recognisable and has been copied many times since by mainstream furniture-makers. One of the sofas forms part of a trompe l'oeil room in the Teatro-Museo in Figueres, which, when viewed from a certain angle, clearly depicts the face of Mae West.

Other objects include a series of floor lamps, the Bracelli Lamp, the Cajones Lamp and the Muletas Lamp, with their twisted, languid and almost tortured geometric forms which are so characteristic of Dalí’s figuration. The Leda Armchair and Leda Coffee Table, so heavy and hard to move, contrast with the slender curved arms and legs in all their feminine and expressive form.

These are Dalí objects - chairs, tables, lamps and seats converted into special objects. Extravagant and mind-boggling objects which have lost all functional value but still retain their highly symbolic aspect. A Dalí chair is not a comfortable chair for “a chair may serve many uses, though not necessarily that of sitting down”.