The lips – labia oris (Lat.) – is the most visible part of our face and body. Lips are also considered to be the sexiest part of the body, as they are often interpreted as a symbol for the vulva, a woman’s secondary sexual organ. First breath, first word and first kiss are coming out of the lips, which embody the power of spirit and the inspiration of soul. It is no wonder that this tactile organ has inspired many artists and fashion designers, who integrate the lips into their masterpieces. Surrealist artists Man Ray, Salvador Dali, and Elsa Schiaparelli have all found their personal source of inspiration in lips.
Man Ray has eternalised the lips of his muse Lee Miller in his painting and photographs, by making those the most famous lips in history of art.
First Lee Miller was his student, but the relationship turned into an amorous direction and they became lovers till their devastating break up in 1932. Soon after Man Ray started working on his famous painting l’Heure de l’Observatoire or The Lovers.
The art piece became both his rehabilitation and his Golgopha. Day after day under a period of two years, he, after waking up, first of all contributed to this painting till the latter was completed in 1934. However, it has helped him to overcome the loss.
Fascinated by American actress Mary Jane Mae West’s lips Salvador Dali created his famous sculpture The Mae West Lips Sofa in 1937.However, the artist also claimed that the inspiration partly came from some objects in nature. The art object had a form of a sofa and was performed in wood and satin. The colour of the sofa was pink – Shocking de Schiaparelli – which was launched the same year by Dali’s friend, colleague and French designer of Italian origin, Elsa Schiaparelli. Today the art piece might be behold at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
Hence, the story does not end there, and in 1972 Italian designer group The Studio 65 designed a homage to the Surrealist painter, the Marilyn Bocca Lip Sofa.
However, this time, as the title discloses, the object of inspiration became another American actress, Marilyn Monroe. Now the sofa was intended for both practical and aesthetical use and soon conquered a status of an icon of modern furniture design.
Elsa Schiaparelli was an artist, who questioned traditional notions of beauty by her extraordinary ideas. Her way of using body parts such as lips in the form of integrated parts of her design, clearly shows her aspiration to demonstrate the transience of beauty, alike ephemerality of fashion. When you are getting old, first your lips lose their shocking pink colour and finally the last sigh coming out of your lips. The lips are a certain symbol for the beginning and end, as no lust lasts forever. Only art is eternal in its way of deceiving time…