Salvador Dalí. Retrospective Bust of a Woman. 1933 (some elements reconstructed 1970)

Salvador Dalí Retrospective Bust of a Woman 1933 (some elements reconstructed 1970)

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 517 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

Like other Surrealists, Dalí constructed sculpture from disparate found objects. The genesis of this work was his discovery of an inkwell featuring the figures from Jean-Francois Millet's painting The Angelus (1857–59). He embedded the inkwell in a loaf of bread and placed them both on an accessorized bust. The necklace is a strip of repeating images from a zoetrope, a precinematic toy that provides the illusion of movement as it rotates.

Gallery label from Dalí: Painting and Film, June 29–September 15, 2008 .
Additional text

In 1931 Dalí described Surrealist sculpture as "absolutely useless and created wholly for the purpose of materializing in a fetishistic way, with maximum tangible reality, ideas and fantasies of a delirious character." Made just a few years after this provocative statement, Retrospective Bust of a Woman not only presents a woman as an object, but explicitly as one to be consumed. A long phallic baguette crowns her head, cobs of corns dangle around her neck, and ants swarm along her forehead as if gathering crumbs. When this work was exhibited in 1933, Pablo Picasso's dog is reputed to have eaten the original loaf of bread.

Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010.
Painted porcelain, bread, corn, feathers, paint on paper, beads, ink stand, sand, and two pens
29 x 27 1/4 x 12 5/8" (73.9 x 69.2 x 32 cm)
Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest and gift of Philip Johnson (both by exchange)
Object number
© 2023 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

[1933, Galerie Pierre Colle, Paris]

? - 1966, Georges Hugnet (1906-1974), Paris, possibly acquired from the artist.

1966 - 1971, Gustave J. Nellens (1907-1971), Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium, purchased from Georges Hugnet.

1971 - [1992], Jacques J. Nellens, Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium, probably inherited from his father Gustave J. Nellens.

1992, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired by exchange through Galerie Beyeler, Basel.

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