What's With Salvador Dali's Obsession With Lobsters?

A lobster on a telephone, melting clocks, elephants with unnaturally long legs. At first glance, it can be easy to think that the works of iconic surrealist artist Salvador Dali must have been created by a mad man. After all, Dali intentionally pushed the boundaries between dreams and reality, sanity and madness; believing in a freedom of expression through which artists could express themselves beyond the constraints of reason and logic. But the motifs that most commonly adorned his works were, in fact, rich with meaning and even Freudian interpretation.

Credit: Dazed

Lladró’s newly launched Salvador Dali sculpture pays tribute to this incredible artist. Made from matt white porcelain, the piece is decorated with opulent copper and gold lustres, such as on the daffodils that crown the artist’s iconic curled moustache. Rich, vivid colour completes the piece, highlighting aspects of the piece such as the lobster, which hangs from Dali’s lapel and can be used as a wearable brooch. Through Dali’s distinct Surrealist art style he himself became a character, a sentiment that is captured perfectly in Lladró’s Dali sculpture. But you may be wondering why did Lladró decide to use these symbols in particular to represent Dali’s unique artistic style?

Lladró’s Salvador Dali Sculpture.

One of the most iconic motifs that is recurrent throughout Dali’s work is the lobster. Being an aphrodisiac, lobster is often associated in art with eroticism and pleasure. Many people believe that Dali used the animals in his work because of these strong sexual connotations, a theory that makes increasing sense when you look at how he used the lobster in his artworks.

“I do not understand why, when I ask for a grilled lobster in a restaurant, I am never served a cooked telephone; I do not understand why champagne is always chilled and why on the other hand telephones, which are habitually so frightfully warm and disagreeably sticky to the touch, are not also put in silver buckets with crushed ice around them.”

— Salvador Dali

In his iconic work Lobster Telephone, Dali placed a lobster over the handset of a telephone. In the piece, the lobster’s tail, where its sexual organs are located, sits directly over the telephone's mouthpiece, which some believe alludes to an erotic undertone within the piece. After all, Dali often combined objects that didn’t ‘go together’ to represent the desires of the subconscious. He also used the lobster in a similar way in other works, such as Telphone Aphrodisiaque and New York man finds lobster in place of Telephone. But the work that perhaps most supports this theory is The Dream of Venus, in which live models were portrayed in the nude with only lobsters covering their genitalia. This was nothing new for Dali, he had always believed in a strong relationship between food and sexual pleasure, and was also a strong believer in the work of Sigmund Freud, whom he had met on several occasions. Freud’s theories had a great influence on the artist’s work, leading him to believe that his art was key to expressing the subconscious desires of the human brain, and also contributing to his use of animals, especially lobsters, as symbols of masculine sexual energy.

Another motif that occurs throughout Salvador Dali’s work is the narcissus flower, or daffodil. Of course, the most famous example of Dali’s use of this flower in his art is Metamorphosis of Narcissus. The painting is a defining work of the artist’s career, the first to be painted using his paranoiac-critical method whereby the painting could appear to change depending on the way it was viewed. In the myth of Narcissus, depicted in this painting, the Ancient Greek heartbreaker Narcissus is so overcome by his own good looks that he dies watching his own reflection in a pond. But his beauty was so great that the gods, not wanting the world to lose such a beautiful thing, reincarnated him in the form of a daffodil flower. Dali continued to use the daffodil as a symbolic motif in many of his works, as for him it had come to symbolise an immortality and eternal youth that he had become increasingly obsessed with achieving for himself.

If this article interested you, be sure to check out:


Back to blog