Salvador Dalí lobster telephone acquired by National Galleries of Scotland

  • Published 18 December 2018

One of Surrealism’s most recognisable works has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland with support from Art Fund.

Salvador Dalí and Edward James, Lobster Telephone, 1938 © National Galleries of Scotland

Salvador Dalí and Edward James, Lobster Telephone, 1938

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© National Galleries of Scotland

An iconic Surrealist sculpture is to go on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art this week after being acquired with support from Art Fund.

Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone had been export-stopped following its sale to a foreign buyer to allow a UK gallery the time to raise the money to acquire the work, because of its historical and artistic significance.

The sculpture is regarded as a prime example of Surrealism, the art movement which emerged in 1920s Paris and explored dreams and the subconscious mind. Bringing together a lobster and a telephone reflects the Surrealist interest in combining unrelated objects to subvert the rational, while still working as a fully-functioning phone.

Made in 1938 for Edward James, a patron of the movement, the work is one of 11 lobster telephones created to fit James’ homes in central London and West Sussex. From the mid-1930s, James had both residences redesigned and given Surrealist makeovers, with Dalí designing furnishings including the celebrated Mae West Lips sofas, one of which we helped the Victoria and Albert Museum to acquire earlier this year.

The other telephones are now spread across museum collections worldwide, including those at Tate Modern and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The sculpture joins the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's extensive collection of Surrealist art, which includes paintings by René Magritte, Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington. This will be the first major Object Sculpture in the collection, as previous object sculptures tended to be hastily constructed and then quickly discarded.

Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund, said: 'Dalí’s Lobster Telephone is among the most famous of all Surrealist objects, typifying the spirit of the movement in its witty, subversive eccentricity. Art Fund is proud to help the National Galleries of Scotland add this important work of art to their internationally renowned Surrealism collection.'

Tags: Art we've helped buy