Note: Descharnes notes that the drawing was probably executed in 1937 and signed later.
This item shows the the “Saliva Sofa” or settee with the lips of Mae West , a sofa with three openings in the form of female sex. This surrealist sculpture was made by Dali in light red. seating furniture made of wood and satin and was shaped in 1937 after the lips of actress Mae West whom Dalí apparently found fascinating.Dalí never intended for the sofa to serve a functional use. He also claimed that he partly based the design of the sofa on a pile of rocks near Cadaques and Portfligat where he stayed for many years with his wife, Gala. Edward James a rich British patron of the Surrealists in the 1930s, originally commissioned this piece from Dalí. It is now part of the art collections at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Another version is on display at the Dali Theatre and Museum in Figures, Catalonia, Spain .
The project was made for a the film with the Marx Brothers entitled “Giraffes on Horseback salad” also known as “La Femme Surreaiiste”. This screenplay was written by Dali for the Marx Brothers and was to be a love story between a Spanish Aristocrat named “Jimmy” (to be played by Harpo Marx, with whom Dalí was friends) and a “beautiful surrealist woman, whose face is never seen by the audience”. Dalí considered that the central theme of the film would be “the continuous struggle between the imaginative life as depicted in the old myths and the practical and rational life of contemporary society” and hoped that the film score could be written by Cole Porter. The screenplay was never produced (although Tate Modern curator Matthew Gale has suggested that Dali may have considered an actual production to be beside the point); A possible reason was that this was because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Marx Brothers’ studio at the time, considered it to be too surreal (proposed scenes included gas mask -wearing giraffes on fire,and Harpo Marx using a Butterfly net to capture “the eighteen smallest dwarfs in the city”). Conversely, The Telegraph alleges that Groucho Marx felt that the screenplay just wasn’t funny.For several years, Giraffes was thought to be lost. In 1991-92, Elevator Repair Service produced Marx Brothers on Horseback Salad, combining scenes from an attempted reconstruction of the screenplay (based partially on having “watched every Marx Brothers film they could find”) with scenes of Dalí’s real-life interactions with Harpo Marx and Susan Flemming. In 1996, the actual screenplay was found amid Dalí’s personal papers.
Several different drawings were made on this theme and a similar one sold recently in Bonhams auction.