Salvador Dalí

study of/for sleep

c1937
oil on canvas
Inventory number 2060
Sleep and dreams were of great importance to Salvador Dalí and other surrealist artists as the imagery produced during these states focus on the subconscious mind.

Dalí’s 1937 painting Sleep depicts a dominant head with a non-existent body. The face of an unknown person has distorted features and closed eyes signifying an expression during slumber. There is a great sense of vulnerability, with the head being supported by several crutches, as though it could collapse at any moment into the dream world. 

In 1942 Dial Press published Salvador Dalí’s autobiographical book The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. In this publication Dalí states ‘I have often imagined the monster of sleep as a heavy, giant head with a tapering body held up by the crutches of reality. When the crutches break, we have the sensation of falling.’