Salvador Dalí. Limp Cranes and "Cranian" Harp. 1935

Salvador Dalí

Limp Cranes and "Cranian" Harp


plate: 14 1/2 x 11 13/16" (36.9 x 30 cm); sheet 18 15/16 x 14 3/4" (48 x 37.4 cm)
Lacourière, Paris
6 known proofs
Gilbert Kaplan Fund and Miranda Kaiser Fund
Object number
© 2017 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Drawings and Prints
This work is not on view.
Salvador Dalí has 42 works  online.
There are 21,456 prints online.

A theatrical and provocative persona among the Parisian Surrealists, Salvador Dali was obsessed with depicting what he called his own hallucinations. He made some fifteen hundred prints over the course of his lifetime, fifty-seven of which were created during the 1930s, the key decade for his artistic development and the period when Surrealism gained widespread recognition. Most of Dali's prints from this era appeared as illustrations and frontispieces in books by André Breton, Paul Eluard, and Tristan Tzara, among others, reflecting the artist's close association with the movement's literary figures.

In 1930 Dali was invited to illustrate Les Chants de Maldoror, an 1869 text rediscovered by the Surrealists in the 1930s that told a nightmarish tale of an unrepentantly evil protagonist. The book was filled with scenes of violence, perversion, and blasphemy. Dali, who worked in a method he called "paranoiac-critical," used a stream-of-consciousness process to access hallucinations and delusions. These personal visions, rather than scenes described in the prose poem, became the subjects of his illustrations.

The individual prints Dali executed in the 1930s, made predominately at the workshop of Roger Lacourière, were experiments in intaglio and were never published as editions. Limp Cranes and "Cranian" Harp, composed as an accumulation of sketches, juxtaposes an array of Dali's quintessential motifs—soft watches, mutating shoes, and the stretched harp and deformed skulls referred to in the title. The harp and skull were, for Dali, evocative of melancholy and death. He claimed that his particular obsession with skull imagery was rooted in a childhood memory of encountering an encephalitic whose skull had been deformed by disease.

Publication excerpt from Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 98

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to