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The Accommodations of Desire

Salvador Dalí (Spanish, Figueres 1904–1989 Figueres )

Date:
1929
Medium:
Oil and cut-and-pasted printed paper on cardboard
Dimensions:
8 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (22.2 x 34.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.16
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    The Spanish-born artist Salvador Dalí was officially allied with Surrealism from 1929 to 1941, and even afterward his work continued to reflect the influence of Surrealist thought and methodology. His flamboyance, flair for drama and self-promotion, and hyperactive imagination reinvigorated the movement and its public popularity. Dalí, who was given to hallucinations and paranoiac visions, cultivated these outrageous subjects for his paintings, rendering them so meticulously that they were unsettling in their clinical matter-of-factness. Such pictures exemplified the Surrealist preoccupation with dreams and the unconscious.


    Painted in the summer of 1929, "The Accommodations of Desire" is a small gem that deals with Dalí's sexual anxieties over a love affair with an older, married woman. The woman, Gala, then the wife of the Surrealist poet Paul Éluard, became Dalí's life-long muse and mate. In this picture, which Dalí painted after taking a walk alone with Gala, he included seven enlarged pebbles on which he envisioned what lay ahead for him: "terrorizing" lions' heads (not so "accommodating" to his "desires" as the title of the painting facetiously suggests), as well as a toupee and a colony of ants (a symbol of decay). Also depicted are various vessels (one in the shape of a woman's head) and three figures embracing on a platform. Dalí did not paint the lion heads but, rather, cut them out from what must have been an illustrated children's book, slyly matching the latter's detailed style with his own. These collaged elements are virtually indistinguishable from the super-saturated color and painstaking realism of the rest of the composition, startling the viewer into questioning the existence of the phenomena recorded and of the representation as a whole.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Salvador Dali 1929

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 186).

    London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "André Breton, la beauté convulsive," April 25–August 26, 1991.

    London. Hayward Gallery. "Salvador Dalí: The Early Years," March 3–May 30, 1994, no. 116.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Salvador Dalí: The Early Years," June 28–September 18, 1994, no. 116.

    Madrid. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. "Salvador Dalí: The Early Years," October 14, 1994–January 16, 1995, no. 116.

    Barcelona. Palau Robert. "Salvador Dalí: The Early Years," February–April 1995, no. 116.

    Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 210).

    London. Tate Modern. "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," September 20, 2001–January 1, 2002, unnumbered cat. (fig. 2).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," February 6–May 12, 2002, unnumbered cat.

    Cleveland. Cleveland Museum of Art. "Barcelona and Modernity: Picasso, Gaudí, Miró, Dalí," October 15, 2006–January 7, 2007, no. 7:33.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barcelona and Modernity: Picasso, Gaudí, Miró, Dalí," March 6–June 3, 2007, no. 7:33.

    London. Tate Modern. "Dalí and Film," June 1–September 9, 2007.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Dalí: Painting and Film," June 29–September 15, 2008.

  • References

    Dawn Ades in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 43–46.

    William S. Lieberman in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 15.

    Sabine Rewald in Twentieth Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 186–88, 297–98, ill. (color and bw).

    Andrew Decker. "Metropolitan: Une Exceptionnelle donation." Beaux Arts, no. 170 (July 1998), p. 24.

    Judith H. Dobrzynski. "20th Century Art Treasures Are Left to Met." New York Times (May 6, 1998), p. B6, ill.

    Roberta Smith. "In a Brash Yet Refined School, Everyone Belongs Together." New York Times (June 15, 2001), p. E37.

  • See also
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    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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