Rational thinking was anathema for Salvador Dalíí, as for all surrealists. They rejected it, pursuing instead what was unreasonable, beyond reason. So, not in spite of but because of the incongruity of the association and its illogic, Dalíí combined lobsters and telephones in several works. Best known is Lobster Telephone, an assemblage of plaster, plastic, and metal, which exists in a few versions, the most familiar of which has a conventional black base and rotary dial and what would be an ordinary black handset were it not surmounted by an extraordinary red lobster. Humorous? Perhaps. But it is truly perverse to combine a familiar object designed for personal communication with a fearsome-looking, aggressive creature. Among Dalíí's other outrageous inventions were lobsters on peoples' heads and on viciously erotic costumes with lobster G-strings. Such portrayals are connected to his idiosyncratic interpretation of Freudian theory, an approach he called ““critical paranoia.”” Symbolically, the lobster might represent an aphrodisiac, a castrating father, a cannibalistic woman, or something else. Everything Dalíí did is open to conjecture (including erotic musings about Hitler), even after he explained what he meant.
Salvador Dalíí's Lobsters: Feast, Phobia, and Freudian Slip
nancy frazier was on the editorial staff of Newsweek in New York City before moving to western Massachusetts, where she was founding editor of Hampshire Life, a regional feature magazine. She received her master's degree in art history and Ph.D. in American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Frazier has published eight books, including The Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History. She is now writing a cultural history of the lobster.
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nancy frazier; Salvador Dalíí's Lobsters: Feast, Phobia, and Freudian Slip. Gastronomica 1 November 2009; 9 (4): 16–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.4.16
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