On Monday, the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) made the exciting announcement that they had finally managed to acquire Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone for $1.1 million (£853,000).
As Forbes report, the Lobster Telephone, which has also gone under the title of Aphrodisiac Telephone, was originally commissioned by Edward James, a huge figure in the Surrealist world who helped many artists by serving as their patron.
To create this unique piece of art for James, Dali took a simple rotary telephone and then used plaster to fashion a lobster which could perch over the top of the telephone and also act as a makeshift receiver.
Salvador Dali fashioned 11 of these telephones in 1938 with four painted red and the remaining seven white. The Lobster Telephone can be seen in some museums today, with the Tate the proud owner of a red version of this art sculpture. However, when this particular white version of the Lobster Telephone was sold at Christie’s to a purchaser in an unnamed foreign country, the UK government fortunately put a stop to it leaving.
But the pressure was on at this point, as the NGS needed to match the price that Dali’s telephone was auctioned for, and there was no guarantee that this could be accomplished. Fortunately for Surrealist art lovers in the UK, the Henry and Sula Walton Fund was able to donate a fair share of the cost needed to acquire this piece, handing over $948,874 (£753,000).
— Art Fund (@artfund) December 19, 2018
With the final goal so close now, the Art Fund put in an additional $126,000 (£100,000) to allow Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone to stay in the UK forever with the NGS the proud new owner of this iconic art piece.
According to Artsy, Simon Groom, who serves as the director of modern and contemporary art at the NGS, explained that this acquisition is an extremely important one as art of this kind today is exceedingly rare.
“This major acquisition cements our position as one of the world’s greatest collections of Surrealist art. Object sculptures—where the artist takes an existing, manufactured object and transforms it with a slight addition or alteration—were popular among the Surrealists, but are now incredibly rare. They turned convention upside-down, saying that anything could be art, and that art and life were not separate. Dalí created something incredibly rich, imaginative and funny with the most economical of means. Before this acquisition we had nothing of this kind.”
Besides the gorgeous white Lobster Telephone that Salvador Dali created, the NGS also managed to snap up a rare portrait of Max Ernst by former girlfriend and fellow artist Leonora Carrington over the summer.