Dalí discovers new ways to express “his” surrealistic ideal within the large scope of decorative arts.
The ESPACE DALÍ exhibits several objects and pieces of furniture that were imagined by Dalí. A complete artist, Dalí was also a talented designer who created various objects and pieces of furniture like the famous Mae West Lips Sofa. In 1936, Dalí already thought that every portrait could be transformed into living room furniture.
According to Dalí, art should fill all aspects of life. He became interested in furniture after having met Jean Michel Franck, the famous interior decorator. Around 1934-1935, Dalí used a photographic portrait of the actress Mae West, to paint a gouache picture called : The Face of Mae West which may be used as a surrealistic apartment.
The masterpiece that was created from the picture is the Mae West Lips Sofa that is on exhibit here, as is the Dalí and Gala’s Vis-à-Vis sofa. Other projects dating back to 1935-1937 are The Lamp with Drawers and the Floor Lamp with Crutches (sketched in 1936-1937).
Several of his works come from his paintings. In his Woman with a Head of Roses painting, 1935, Dalí depicts a couple of women surrounded by very strange furniture :
— a chair with legs fitted with small shoes and an armrest like a human arm.
— a low table with a leg that looks like a long arm with a hand on one end and a foot on the other. An egg placed on the table is one of Dalí’s favorite symbols : a mineral reminder of a former, intra-uterine life and rebirth. These elements are part of a setting created in 1990-1992, Dalí and Gala’s Vis-à-Vis living room. It is a three-dimensional reproduction of some of the Master’s projects dating from 1935-1937, a period when Dalí’s formal vocabulary was no longer restricted to painting.
These bronze objects are displayed in a manner that reproduces a small living room in which we find other creations :
— The Lamp with Drawers and the Floor Lamp with Crutches (made according to sketches drawn in 1936-1937) . In these sketches, Dalí made separate studies of each corresponding lampshade. The draped fabric is very carefully designed, despite its apparent simplicity, since it clearly evokes the torero’s gesture of crossed-hands as he waves the muleta in front of the bull before dealing the death-blow.
— A floor lamp shaped in the position of Vénus de Milo, which for Dalí represents absolute perfection, one of his favorite themes.
The emblematic piece in the living room is the Vis-à-Vis, or the Confident, well-named for its shape and purpose, which is to encourage private conversation and exchange: as it happens, the surrealistic lovers’ conversation par excellence, the one between Dalí and Gala. Upholstered in “shocking pink” fabric, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli for the Mae West Lips Sofa, it demonstrates Dalí’s skillfulness (as if it needed to be demonstrated!) at subtly changing the derogative connotation attached to this furniture style that was in fashion during Napoleon III’s reign, and which was hardly known in the 30’s. In about 1934-1935, Dalí used a photographic portrait of the actress Mae West, to paint a gouache picture called : The Face of Mae West which may be used as a surrealistic apartment.
In the painting, Dalí designed the face like a room where each facial feature was an element in a living room. Example: the nose became a fireplace, the lips a sofa, the eyes were pictures…
In 1936-1937, a life-sized lips sofa was made: the fabric was the exact same color as the lipstick worn by the actress. Jean Michel Franck created the first Mae West Lips Sofa for Dalí.