EDINBURGH – Scotland’s National galleries announced on Monday its purchase of one of Dali’s most acclaimed surrealist artworks after the government, earlier this year, forbade it from being exported outside the UK.
Dali’s sculpture “Lobster Telephone” will now go on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, which paid 853.000 GBP ($1.07 million) after the government of the United Kingdom blocked its export license due to artistic and historical considerations.
“This major acquisition cements our position as one of the world’s greatest collections of Surrealist art,” said Simon Groom, director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
The 1938 Lobster Telephone was a joint creation between Dali and his then patron, Edward James, an avid collector of surrealist artworks.
The inspiration for this iconic piece came to Dali in 1936 when he, James and others were eating lobsters and one of the discarded crustacean shells landed on a telephone.
The Henry and Sula Walton Fund provided the bulk of the funds required to purchase the work and the remainder came from Art Fund, a UK national fundraising charity.
“Dali created something incredibly rich, imaginative and funny with the most economical of means,” Groom said, adding that the phone became an inspiration for many future artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
Dali’s artwork is a stunning example of the 1920s surrealist movement which sought to explore the world of dreams and what lurked inside the subconscious mind.
A total of 11 Lobster Telephones were commissioned by James in 1938, seven hand-painted white and four painted red.
Each one is slightly different, thus unique.
The Edward James Foundation retained one red lobster telephone and one white version.
Eight went to museum collections in Australia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, South Africa, the United States and London’s Tate Gallery.
The 11th remains in a private collection.