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Métronome

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  • Nitai Rotenberg asked

    Is Metronome by Dali a unique object or is it part of a larger edition? If so, are other Editions held in Public Collections?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Nitai,

    Thank you for your question. In the movie 'Spellbound' (1946) by Alfred Hitchcock you can see several versions of 'Métronome'. Dalí made five versions; four have a black eye and one depicts a blue eye.

    best, Sophie

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More information

In 1923 Man Ray attached a photograph of an eye to the needle of a metronome. The resulting object has a hallucinatory effect: a moving eye that holds you in its stare. He gave the work the ironic title ‘Object to Be Destroyed’. He later issued a replica of the object as a multiple with the equally teasing title ‘Indestructible Object’. In 1944, Dalí made this variant with a drawn eye for the dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound.

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Collection book

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Specifications

Title Métronome
Material and technique Metronome, chalk on paper
Object type
Sculpture > Three-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 22 cm
Width 15 cm
Depth 13 cm
Artists Kunstenaar: Salvador Dalí
Accession number BEK 1868 (MK)
Credits Aankoop met steun van / Purchase with support of: BankGiro Loterij 2011
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 2011
Age artist About 40 years old
Exhibitions The Collection Enriched (2011)
Een paraplu, een naaimachine en een ontleedtafel. Surrealisme à la Dalí in Rotterdam. (2013)
Collectie - surrealisme (2017)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
External exhibitions The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art (2011)
Surreal Objects (2011)
Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Material
Object

Please note: The metadata of this object have not been checked.
Contact a curator if something seems incorrect.

Author: Marijke Peyser

At the invitation of the director Alfred Hitchcock, Salvador Dalí agreed to cooperate on the film Spellbound (1945), based on the novel The House of Dr Edwards (1928) by Francis Beeding (the pseudonym of John Palmer and Hilary A. Saunders). The story revolves around a mystery, which is solved by the interpretation of a dream. On 17 August 1944 the artist signed a contract with Vanguard Films in Hollywood, in which for the sum of $4,000 he was committed ‘to create, draw and paint all sketches and/or designs required in connection with the so-called “Dream Sequence” in the picture The House of Dr Edwards (four (4) paintings)’.[1] It was to be the first Hollywood film to focus on psychoanalysis.[2] Hitchcock wanted to represent it in a realistic, penetrating way: ‘When we arrived at the dream sequences, I wanted absolutely to break with the tradition of cinema dreams which are usually misty and confused, with a shaking screen, etc. Selznick, the producer, had the impression that I wanted Dalí for the publicity value. That wasn’t it at all. The only reason was my desire to obtain very visual dreams with sharp, clear features …. I wanted Dalí because of the sharpness of his architecture – [De] Chirico is very similar – the long shadows, the infinite distances, the lines that converge in perspective, the formless faces. … I wanted them shot in the bright sunshine. … Dalí was the best man for me to do the dreams because that is what dreams should be.’[3]

The ‘dream’ was filmed at three different locations: in a gambling den, on a roof and on an incline. Dalí made around a hundred preparatory drawings in all.[4] The four paintings in shades of grey and one canvas in colour that he made for the film were used as the background for various scenes.[5] One striking element in the scene that takes place in the gambling den is the giant pair of scissors that damages the eye painted on the backdrop. The reference to the opening scene of the film Un chien andalou by Dalí and Buñuel in 1929 is patently obvious.[6] Dalí designed tables and chairs with plaster legs, which looked like women’s legs in shoes with high heels for the same location: a homage to the American Surrealist artist Kurt Seligmann and his Ultra-Furniture of 1938.[7] Dalí also designed four metronomes. These play a role in the first dream sequence in the gambling den. Two metronomes stand on a table on the right side of the room and another two on the table on the left.[8] Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen acquired one of the metronomes in 2011.

Long before Dalí designed this metronome, the American artist Man Ray had already caused a sensation with a metronome titled Indestructible Object (Object to Be Destroyed) (1923). Ten years later Man Ray adapted the object as a result of the breakdown of his relationship with his muse, the photographer Lee Miller. He attached a cut-out photograph of her eye to the pendulum, transforming the metronome into a provocative portrait.

 

Footnotes

[1] London/Los Angeles/St. Petersburg/New York 2007-08, pp. 174, 185.

[2] Ibid., p. 176.

[3] Ades 1995, p. 203 and London/Los Angeles/St Petersburg/New York 2007-08, p. 178 and note 17, p. 185.

[4] Ades 1995, p. 204.

[5] London/Los Angeles/St Petersburg/New York 2007-08, p. 178.

[6] Ibid., pp. 178-179: this scene had already been planned before Dalí became involved in the film. According to Sara Cochran, author of the chapter Spellbound 1944, pp. 174-85, this is evidence of the level of Dalí’s fame and popularity in the United States.

[7] London/Los Angeles/St Petersburg/New York 2007-08, p. 179.

[8] MBVB Archives, Dalí object file, Métronome.

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