Dalí and the Surrealist shoe

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Monday, 2017, November 6

The Surrealist sculpture ‘Le Soulier Objet Surrealiste a fonctionnement symbolique’ (‘The Shoe, Surrealist Object with a symbolic function’) was created by Dalí in 1932.  An exemplar from a later edition is currently on display in the Weston gallery of London ‘s Royal Academy of Arts, in the exhibition ‘Dalí  / DuChamp’,  which runs until the beginning of January 2018.

This sculpture is a surreal assemblage, comprised of, amongst other items, a red court shoe, several photographs, marble pieces, a glass of wax, spoon, matchbox, and hair.

Dalí had a passion for fashion, in particular shoes. In his autobiography, ‘The Secret Life Of Salvador Dalí ’(1942), Dalí  states, ‘All my life, I have been so preoccupied with shoes, used in several objects and images- that I wound up converting them into divinities. In 1936, I went so far as to put shoes on heads; Elsa Schiaparelli created a hat based on my idea. The shoe, in fact, appears to me to be the object most charged with realistic virtues as opposed to musical objects which I have always tried to represent as demolished, crushed, soft–cellos of rotten meat, etc.’ This surreal and bizarre explanation of his obsession with shoes, leads the reader to understand that Dalí’s force of creativity came from the subconscious, rendering his artworks unique and unparalleled.

Dalí gave an initial definition to what he called, ‘Objects with a symbolic function’ in ‘Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution’ (1931). ”These objects, which lend themselves to a minimum of mechanical functioning, are based on the fantasies and representations that can arise from the performance of subconscious acts. […] Objects with a symbolic function leave no place at all for formal preoccupations. ‘

Like the ‘Lobster telephone’, or the ‘Buste de femme Retrospectif’, Dalí ’s Surrealist shoe sculpture  epitomizes the theories of the unconscious mind, which was the main staple of Surrealist Art.