The Dalí bronze sculpture Woman Aflame, perfectly encapsulates Dalí’s exploration of three-dimensional form and it effectively demonstrates the core characteristics of Surrealism. Woman Aflame (1980) is a significant work, having a prominent place in Dalí’s sculpture repertoire.
The inextinguishable flames represent a burning passion, perhaps that of latent female desire. For Dalí, it is well documented that Drawers symbolize memory and the unconsciousness. They express the mystery of hidden secrets, of which according to Dalí , women possessed. Dalí was influenced by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and in this sculpture the drawers illustrate the hidden sensuality of the female and the mysteries that the female body contains.
Dalí’s attitude towards the art form of sculpture was both scientific and metamorphic, which can be seen in a paragraph from his biography “The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí”: He approached form almost scientifically and his sculptures were a result of much hard work and intellectual ponderings.
“Today we know that form always derives from a process of investigating the material... the specific reaction of the material when it is subjected to the terrible coercive force of space, which suffocates it, pressing and squeezing it everywhere, until creating that growth which, starting from its life, reaches the precise limitations established by the strict boundaries of its original reaction. Many times, a piece of material driven by an absolute impulse, denies the reaction; while another piece of material manages to create its own particular life, a piece of material that tries to be what it can be, giving in to the pleasure of creating new forms, despite the tyrannical impact of space”.
The Woman Aflame sculpture recalls the 1937 painting The Burning Giraffe created before his 8 year exile to the United States during the 1940s.
The painting shows his personal struggle with the chaos of World War II; the images therein can be traced back to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical method, much admired by Dalí.
This seminal sculpture, central to Dalí’s oeuvre and an exceptional example of his work in bronze in three dimensions, has been exhibited all over the globe in various locations, include Paris’s Place Vendôme, in the epic Dalí Monumental Sculpture, exhibition in 1995; Singapore in the UOB Plaza in 2006, in New York, at the Time Warner Center, The Vision of a Genius, in 2011 and more recently in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive, at the 2016 Open Air Exhibition of Dalí Sculptures.