Seemingly a personification of sleep itself, Dalí portrays the head in his collage as it is in the oil painting—suspended over a bleak Surrealist landscape by a system of wooden crutches that provide delicate leverage. In light of the head’s human features (nose and lips), it too, suggests the crutches to be metaphoric fixtures necessary to prop up a society steeped in decadence and excess—a unique symbolic gesture seen throughout the artist’s oeuvre. Moreover, the significance that Dalí places not only on the symbolism of the human subconscious, but also on the act of falling asleep itself, Sleep captures the distortion of the human body as it gradually collapses into deep-sleep.
Building on the original oil painting, in his Sleep collage Dalí humorously accents the scene with a photo of himself conducting a team of painters and workers (apparently in the midst of completing a massive composition). The photograph, taken during an event at photographer Gjon Milli’s studio in New York, is animated with the frenetic energy of the crew and provides a comical contrast to the heavy comatose state of sleep. The image, which is placed on the top right corner of the collage, is embellished with careful strokes of paint and bordered (primarily near the top of the picture) with more bold strokes of blue paint. Dalí is exceptionally resourceful when it comes to accessing the visual language representative of the unearthly images that inhabit his subconscious. Moreover, the artist’s inclusion of this timeless photograph adds an intimate aspect of personalization to the collage—inviting viewers to join Dalí in his wild and wonderful adventures.
At its core, Sleep is a perfect reminder of why Salvador Dalí remains one of the most prolific and celebrated artists in history. The eccentric and innovative works of Dalí perpetually walk a fine line between madness and genius—perhaps the reason for his enduring legacy. Of the endless variety of themes, theories, imagery and iconography that Dalí treats in his extensive oeuvre, the artist’s Sleep collage brilliantly incorporates some of his most celebrated symbols to form a humorous, yet profound tribute to the subconscious human mind. Galerie Michael is thrilled to present Sleep, a unique collage of great cultural significance and an essential addition to a private, museum quality collection.
• Heidelberg, Ausstellung Schlob-Heidelberg (& travelling in Austria, Germany and Switzerland), Salvador Dalí, Bilder, Zeichnungen, Objekte, eine Ausstellung des • Museu Perrot-Moore, Cadaquès, 1981-82, no. 26 or no. 27, illustrated;
• Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, Dalí en Argentina, 1986, illustrated;
• São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, Dalí no Brasil, 1986, illustrated;
• Toulouse, Réfectoire des Jacobins, Salvador Dalí, Huiles, Dessins, Sculptures, 1983-84, illustrated;
• Ithaca, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, A Private Eye: Dada, Surrealism and More from the Brandt Collection, 2006, p. 27, illustrated.