The Surrealist Tea at Sotheby's Cafe.
LONDON – Entering Sotheby’s Café today my eye fell on a biscuit. Except, according to the inscription on the biscuit, it wasn’t. ‘This is not a biscuit,’ it said – but it was delicious.
This week and next Sotheby’s Café in New Bond Street are offering a ‘Surrealist Tea’ to coincide with the sale of taking place on 5 February. The biscuit is a tribute to René Magritte, whose subversion of logic and relish of paradox are key components of the movement. Lot 42, for instance, is a gouache by Magritte showing a landscape at sunset with the sun disconcertingly shining between the viewer and the trees rather than beyond them. It is cryptically entitled The Banquet.
The menu for the Surrealist Tea.
Also on offer in the café is a cake decorated with a melting watch in icing sugar. This, of course, is a tribute to Salvador Dalí, who is represented in the sale by a superb 1943 portrait of Mrs Harrison Williams (lot 46). There aren’t any melting watches in the background of this particular portrait, but it is an extraordinarily powerful dream-like compendium of other motifs from Dali’s uniquely fertile imagination.
Meanwhile the cake with the melting watch is also delicious, although it seems a pity to eat it, because it is a work of art in its own right. But eating a work of art is perhaps a piece of Surrealist performance art anyway – which will be taking place frequently in the café over the coming days.
René Magritte's The Banquet, 1957.
Salvador Dalí's Portrait of Mrs Harrison Williams, 1943.
Max Ernst's Surrealism, 1942.
Paul Delvaux's Les Courtisanes or Le Jardin des Courtisanes or La Terrasse, 1941.
Joan Miró's Le Fermier et Son Épouse, 1936.