Friday, July 1, 2016

A Beijing Sculpture Mystery Somewhat Solved

In the previous post with examples of contemporary art currently displayed at the Parkview Green shopping mall in Beijing, I was not able to identify the artist of one of the sculptures.

Salvador Dali's "The Michelin Slave" sculpture at Parkview Green in Beijing

One reader had a thoughtful suggestion for the possible artist, but I couldn't find match. After a variety of online searches, including using different versions of the photo, proved fruitless, I took another look at what appeared to be a signature on the sculpture's base.

Salvador Dali's signature on "The Michelin Slave" sculpture at Parkview Green in Beijing

If the signature used a creative style of Chinese characters, I was clueless, but it appeared to use letters from the Latin alphabet. My first guess was "X-something Li". I had found some artists with similar names but, again, no matches.

This time, though, I stopped thinking of the first symbol as an "X" and eventually a familiar name jumped out at me. It didn't take long after that for me to find several matching examples of "The Michelin Slave" (1967) by Salvador Dali. I also see similar examples named "Michelin's Slave — Can Be Used as a Car". In reference to a smaller version of the sculpture, LiveAuctioneers wrote:
For Dali, the slave imprisoned by tires symbolized the slaves who construct the Cadillac automoblie [sic] in the plants of General Motors. This piece is also known as Venus de los neumaticos.
So it seems to be yet another intriguing choice for a piece of art displayed at a shopping mall.

I am not sure of the meaning of the letters below the signature and wonder whether they indicate the sculpture is a reproduction of some type. According to a fascinating in-depth article on Artnews, "The Dalí Sculpture Mess", the status of this sculpture might not be a simple issue. The lead paragraph:
A flood of posthumous sculpture by Salvador Dalí­ generates millions of dollars in annual revenue—but the artist’s connection with much of the work is unclear. The market is rife with unreliable information, disputed ownership claims, unauthorized editions, and legal conflict. At least two European police investigations are under way.
From one question to another . . .


  1. ah! of course! very silly mistake on my part. Parkview bought loads of these (awful) Dali sculptures.