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Dali’s Lobster Telephone in Surrealism Movement Essay


Introduction

Surrealism is a 20th Century movement of artists and writers who used fantastic images, as well as incongruous juxtapositions to represent unconscious thoughts (Singh, 2011). The main focus of this movement that was founded in France was to resolve a number of preceding paradoxical conditions associated with fictional realism. The members believed in the power of imagination, thus the reason they created several strange-looking images and pictures as a way of expressing their thoughts. The members who started this interest group were highly influenced by famous theorists such as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, and Herbert Marcuse (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002).

The artistic influences of the movement came from renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, and Giorgio de Chirico (Lusty, 2007). The philosophical concepts developed by the theorists played a crucial role in influencing the thought process of surrealist members, which had an orientation towards bringing a revolution.

Another element that influenced the development of this movement was Dadaism (Mical, 2005). This was a nihilistic art movement that flourished in Europe during the early 20th Century. The movement, which focused a lot on paintings, was based on irrationality and negation of the accepted laws of beauty. The movement has managed to spread across various parts of the world, with its most notable influences being on the development of literature, languages, film, and music (Mical, 2005). The surrealism movement has influenced numerous social theories and political systems used in various parts across the world (Lusty, 2007). The main reason for choosing this movement was to understand its history, worldwide influence, and key ideas developed by the members.

Historical response

The movement has a very deep historical background. A number of writers and artists in the movement worked in Paris (Singh, 2011). However, following the breakout of World War I, most of them separated and moved away from each other due to the instability that developed. Most of the artists and writers were against the war, as they believed that the conflict was caused by people who belonged to the property-owning class that exploited the working class (Aspley, 2010).

This influenced most of them to engage in the activities of the Dada movement. The movement engaged in protests through writings and paintings that condemned the war (Mical, 2005). Soon after the war ended, members of the movement went back to Paris, where they continued with their activities. One of the characteristic features of this movement was their anti-social attitude and contempt rejection of traditional artistic culture (Lusty, 2007).

With time, the movement continued to grow and have more members who introduced various elements about writing and artistic work. The group developed a philosophy towards a culture of automatism being the best strategy for influencing change in the society. This led to the development of the surrealism movement in 1922 (Singh, 2011). Members believed in the need to promote ordinary and depictive imaginations through artistic expressions. Some of the major artists in the movement included Georges Limbour, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Jacques Baron, Max Morise, Rene Magritte, and Jacques Prevert, among others (Lusty, 2007).

The surrealism movement had a manifesto that was used to record the intentions and rules guiding the association between members. The motivation for coming up with a manifesto was to fight a rival group that had emerged, claiming the ownership of the group’s name (Lusty, 2007). The two factions started a literary battle in order to find a winner. The group led by Breton won because of their tactics and high numbers. This victory marked a dark moment for the group as some members resigned, and others got excommunicated from engaging in its activities (Lusty, 2007). The manifesto of the group had citations of the different projects submitted by members, the definition of the movement, as well as the purpose that members intended to fulfill through their activities.

Members often held their meetings in cafes. Their meetings involved a number of activities such as drawing competitions, developing artistic techniques, and deliberating on various theories that influenced their philosophy (Singh, 2011).

The mission of the movement was to generate a completely new attitude towards the ability to form mental images of things and events. The movement is still relevant today, as many contemporary artists and writers continue their adherence to the philosophy they promoted. The activities of the surrealism movement were very crucial in influencing future artists in various ways. One of the artists that were influenced by the movement was Joseph Cornell (Mical, 2005). The American was a renowned artist and sculptor, who pioneered the concept of assemblage in the artwork.

Critical analysis

There are a number of works of art that define the surrealism movement. Some of the common works developed by artists in the surrealism movement include the lobster telephone and metamorphosis of narcissus by Salvador Dali, as well as Celebes by Max Ernst (Aspley, 2010).

Lobster Telephone

Lobster Telephone created by Salvador Dali in 1936.
Image 1: Lobster Telephone created by Salvador Dali in 1936.

This classic surrealist artwork was created by Salvador Dali in 1936 (Aspley, 2010). The Spanish artist was well known for his artistic skills and drawing prowess. One of his famous works that preceded the lobster telephone was the Persistence of Memory, which was a canvas painting he had completed in 1931 (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002). His personality that was characterized by attention-seeking actions and grandiose behavior influenced most of the imaginations expressed in his works.

The object was collected by Tate and purchased in 1981 (Aspley, 2010). This artwork was made using a combination of various materials that normally could not be linked together in developing an artistic piece. The materials included steel, plaster, rubber, resin, and paper. The dimensions of this artwork were 178 x 330 x 178 mm (Mical, 2005). The resulting artwork was described by his fellow artists as a mischievous and ominous object. Dali argued that at the time when he was designing this artwork, telephones and scorpions had an erotic implication on him (Aspley, 2010).

These connotations had developed from one of his earlier artworks called The Dream of Venus, which had been showcased at the 1939 global art fair in New York. In the fair, artists were required to use live models dressed in costumes that were made of materials from sea animals (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002).

The model used to develop the lobster telephone was highly influenced by Dali’s correlation between sex and food. In this artwork, Dali placed the crustacean tail that had covered the private parts of the female models, over the mouthpiece (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002). The unique design of this artwork was a trending topic across the world and made Dali a household name. At the time, he received an invite from the American Weekly periodical to draw his artistic impression of New York City. His drawings were very impressive. People described him as the man who discovered a phone in a lobster (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002).

In response, Dali gave some interesting responses that made people realize the philosophy promoted by surrealism artists. One of the responses given by Dali questioned why hotels still serve lobsters instead of cooked phones (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002). He believed that the world should buy into his imaginations and believe that every time they are served with a grilled lobster, they are eating a telephone. The lobster telephone was not a new thing. Research has established that there were many versions of the telephone that had been created by other artists.

I believe that the creativity used to develop the lobster telephone is very commendable. However, it must be one of Dali’s most satirical creations to date, as people from various parts across the world still express their amusement with the artwork. In addition, the stylish design of the artwork was personal, and people learned a few things about his philosophy (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002). The different designs that Dali had created of this artwork were effective in portraying his dynamism and creative nature.

This was a clear manifestation of the philosophy shared among surrealism artists who believed that the world could be changed through expression of imaginary thoughts. The lobster telephone was displayed in several museums across the world (Durozoi & Anderson, 2002). The lobster telephone has been very influential in the development of art, as most art students use it as a reference point when learning about the history of art.

Conclusion

Surrealism movement was founded in the 20th Century by a group of artists and writers based in Paris, France. The movement developed out of Dadaism. Some of the people who influenced the philosophy of the surrealism movement included Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, and Herbert Marcuse. The group did not focus on writing alone, as they also did a lot of artistic work that had influences from renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, and Giorgio de Chirico.

The surrealism movement has influenced numerous social theories and political systems across the world. The group developed a philosophy towards a culture of automatism being the best strategy for influencing change in the society. Major artists that were part of the surrealism movement included Georges Limbour, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Jacques Baron, Max Morise, Rene Magritte, and Jacques Prevert. One of the artists that were influenced by the movement was Joseph Cornell.

A number of artworks defined the philosophy of the surrealism movement. The model used to develop the lobster telephone was highly influenced by Dali’s correlation between sex and food. Although the lobster telephone from Dali was not a new invention, it showed a lot of creativity and a strong desire by artists to express their imaginations. The surrealism movement is still relevant in the contemporary world, as most artists still consider their deep history as a motivating factor to the work they do in terms of influencing their creativity. The work done by the artists has a lot of aesthetic worth, as it helps to showcase the beautiful aspects of the world.

References

Aspley, K. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Surrealism. California: Scarecrow Press.

Durozoi, G., & Anderson, A. (2002). History of the Surrealist Movement. Michigan: University of Chicago Press.

Lusty, N. (2007). Surrealism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. New York: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Mical, T. (2005). Surrealism and Architecture. New York: Psychology Press.

Singh, S.K. (2011). Surrealist movement. Greener Journal of Art and Humanities, 1(1), 21-22.

Annotated Bibliography

Aspley, K. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Surrealism. California: Scarecrow Press.

This book focuses on explaining various elements that constituted the manifesto of the surrealism movement. According to the author, the surrealism movement was very widespread and had many people who adhered to its philosophy. Andre Breton was a strong leader who managed to keep the group together for a long time. The book explains the various changes that happened within the group and their effects with regard to the development of art. This is a very resourceful book for anyone interested in learning about the history of the surrealism movement.

Durozoi, G., & Anderson, A. (2002). History of the Surrealist Movement. Michigan: University of Chicago Press.

One of the authors of this book is a veteran philosopher and a long critic of artwork in his native France. This book was very resourceful in understanding the philosophy of the surrealism movement. In addition, the author discusses a number of artists that belonged to the surrealism movement. Some of the artists mentioned in the book along with some of their artwork include Paul Eluard, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Max Ernst. The author also gives a detailed history of art in the 20th century by discussing the main factors that influenced the growth of the discipline at the time. I would recommend this book to any person interested in learning the history of art as influenced by the surrealism movement.

Lusty, N. (2007). Surrealism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. New York: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

This book focuses on the manner in which activities of the surrealism movement influenced the concept of aesthetic value. The author makes reference to two female surrealist artists, namely Leonora Carrington and Claude Cahun. Since the philosophy of the surrealist movement used a lot of concepts developed by theorists such as Freud, the author dedicated much of the literature to explain the development of feminism. The book makes a lot of reference to events and factors that contributed to the history of the surrealism movement. This book was very resourceful in getting a clear understanding of the manner in which activities of the surrealism movement influenced the development of various concepts across the world.

Mical, T. (2005). Surrealism and Architecture. New York: Psychology Press.

This book focuses on the history of surrealism and its impact on contemporary architecture. The author examines the way members of the surrealism movement developed their philosophy. In addition, he examines the reasons as to why architecture was ignored when the surrealist artist were developing their artwork. The contemporary architectural designs have a lot of influence from the philosophy of the surrealism movement. In the book, the author combines a number of essays that discuss the role of expressing one imaginations with regard to the aesthetic and social elements of artwork that influence modern architecture. This book was very resourceful in terms of enhancing my understanding of the choices of artists, writers, and architects in the contemporary world as a result of influences by the surrealism movement.

Singh, S.K. (2011). Surrealist movement. Greener Journal of Art and Humanities, 1(1), 21-22.

This article is very resourceful with regard to this project. The author focuses much of the literature towards explaining the origin of the movement, its development, as well as its positive and negative influences. According to the author, surrealist movement represents the source of the contemporary social and psychological concepts that explain the importance of the subconscious part of the brain. In addition, the article discusses the elements of the surrealist manifesto and the leadership of Andre Breton. This article was also resourceful in helping me understand the influences that theorists such as Freud had on the philosophy promoted by members of the surrealism movement. According to the author, the surrealism movement has had great influence on the development of literatures across the world.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Dali's Lobster Telephone in Surrealism Movement." August 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/dalis-lobster-telephone-in-surrealism-movement/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Dali's Lobster Telephone in Surrealism Movement'. 15 August.

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