The Surrealist sculpture ‘Le Soulier Objet Surrealiste a fonctionnement symbolique’ dated 1973, (‘The Shoe, Surrealist Object with a symbolic function’) will be exhibited at the Pompidou Metz in Metz-Nancy, France, following a loan agreed between the museum and the Dali Universe, owners of this important piece. The exhibition “Theatre of Metamorphoses” at the Centre Pompidou-Metz highlights the rich range of forms of expression used by the German artist Rebecca Horn, whose work will feature as part of this exhibition, opening in June through to November 2019.
The Surrealist sculpture ‘Le Soulier Objet Surrealiste a fonctionnement symbolique’ from 1973, 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. Also known as Gala’s shoe, the sculpture has varied intricate parts, when assembled, create a surreal mise-en-scene.
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.’
In 1941, Dalí created the painting Original Sin where he illustrated a pair of shoes, almost liquefied, next to a classical ‘veined foot’, which highlight his strength and create a strong contrast with the softness of the shoes.
Just four years earlier, in 1937, René Magritte produced the painting Le modèle rouge III where he illustrates the metamorphosis of the shoe into a foot. The shoes, show in the upper part a boot with buttonholes, whilst on the lower part they take the shape of the foot and their color fades into the colour of human skin.
In many of his artworks, shoes seem alive, metamorphosing into something different altogether. In his 1955 painting Woman with Head of Roses and in the sculpture Leda armchair from the 1930s, and the Dalí illustrates a chair that takes on a human form, portraying legs and heeled shoes. The bronze Surrealist Piano sculpture (1954-84) takes a piano as its protagonist, giving the legs frilly petticoats and booted heels.
As Dalí said, ‘Shoes have always influenced my existence and I have used them in different surrealist objects, in different paintings, to transform them into a kind of divinity. [...] The shoe, indeed, is for me the richest object of realistic virtues…’
The exhibition also includes pieces from other extravagant surrealist such as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Meret Oppenheim and Constantin Brâncuşi.