Dali created Barcelona Sphinx, 1939 by Salvador Dali
in gouache, pastel and collage on cardboard.
The painting depicts the child star Shirley Temple as a sphinx. Shirley Temple's head, taken from a newspaper photograph, is superimposed on the body of a red lioness with breasts and
white claws. On top of the head is a vampire bat. Surrounding the sphinx are a human skull and other bones, suggesting her latest kill. At the bottom of the painting is a Trompe-l'oeil
label that reads: "Shirley!. at last in Technicolor."
The painting has been described as a satire on the sexualization of child stars by Hollywood. In the painting, Temple is represented with the red naked body of a lioness, complete with
prominent breasts and claws. Beneath her on the desert ground are the skeletal remains of her last kill, on which she languidly rests. Dali suggests a highly sexualized form of idolatry
that circumnavitates Temple's image. The zoomorphic quality of the image suggests a grotesquery as well - a collision of binary opposites (human and animal, adult and child, savagery and
passsivity, sex and innocence) that also marks the incoherent body of the revolting child.