(1904 - 1989)
Spanish painter, graphic artist, filmmaker, writer.
A modern master of the surreal arts, Salvador Dali's works continually challenged convention by questioning the antithesis of surrealism: our normal sense of the "real."
Surrealism's objective was to make accessible to art the realms of the unconscious, irrational and imaginary. An expansive movement that extended beyond the canvas, Surrealism embraced literature, music, cinema, philosophy and popular culture. Dali's works drew inspiration from fellow Surrealists, such as Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Joan Miro...
After 50 Years of Surrealism
In 1974 Salvador Dali created a portfolio entitled “After 50 Years of Surrealism”. This portfolio serves as a documentation of important moments and events in the artist’s life, and can furthermore be seen as homage to Andre Bretón’s Surrealist Manifesto, written 50 years earlier in 1924. Bretón’s manifesto proposed a radical and systematic revision of received values, and a revaluation of the unconscious as a source of all artistic inspiration. In 1924, Dali had already dedicated his attention to Italian artists Giorgio De Chirico and Carlo Carra’s Metaphysical School, which rejected Futurism and Cubism and proposed a return to the world of dreams and inner life. Thus, embracement of Bretón’s manifesto was a natural extension of ideas that Dali had already begun to explore. The 12 hand-colored etchings that compose “After 50 Years of Surrealism” display personal events in Dali’s own life, and at the same time acknowledge his reverence for the ideals made popular by Bretón, and are appropriately illustrated in the surrealist style that Dali’s work so famously exemplifies.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Dali’s incredible illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (published in 1865) have caused it to become one of the rarest and most sought-after Dali suites. With the original gouaches published by Maecenas Press-Random House, New York in 1969, the suite now contains 12 heliogravures - one for each chapter of the book - and comes with 1 original signed etching in 4 colors as the frontpiece.
This collaboration brings together arguably two of the most creative minds in Western culture, as both are considered ultimate explorers of dreams and imagination.
The Art of Love
Dali's The Art of Love portfolio was created in 1978 to accompany the songs of the same name written by Ovid almost 2000 years earlier. Illustrated with brilliant color and rich detail, these images portray Ovid's lessons on love, seduction and intrigue. The illustrations also emphasize Dali's sensuality, both in subject matter and style, as well as his customary attention to the feminine, a theme that played a large part in the artist's creative process. This portfolio, made up of etchings, lithographs, and woodcut engravings, is one of Salvador Dali's most rare books. Furthermore, the Art of Love book seen at William Bennett Modern is one of only nine Artist's Proofs in the world, thus providing an extraordinary viewing experience.
This suite, containing 105 lithographs on heavy rag paper within five illustrated volumes of the Bible in Vulgate, was published in 1969 by Rizzoli Editions, Milan, Italy and is the largest published suite of Dali’s work. Six years in the making, from 1963 – 1969, the suite was commissioned by Dali’s good friend and leading Dali patron Guiseppe Albaretto, who wanted to lead the artist to God and back to the Catholic Church. He believed that Dali was too influenced by his wife, Gala, who was, in his eyes, "beyond redemption."
The illustrations, rich in both color and content, show the artist’s range of creativity as they exhibit a wide variety of imagery – some Christian and some based on classical mythology. The works also show Dali’s spontaneity, as the artist employed the use of “bulletism,” a Dalinian invention where an arquebus (a type of antique gun) was loaded with ink-filled capsules and then fired at blank sheets of paper. The resultant patterns/designs were then incorporated into the suite’s illustrations.
Les Caprices de Goya
227 years after the birth of Spanish master Francisco Goya, Salvador Dali had an idea to transform Goya's "Los Caprichos" and present a new work. Goya's "Los Caprichos" was an artistic experiment exposing the foolish superstitions in 18th century Spanish society. Goya described the series as depicting "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual". The body of work was withdrawn from public sale before their planned release in 1799. Only a formal order from King Carlos IV kept Goya from being called before the Spanish Inquisition. In 1973 Salvador Dali created a metamorphosis of Goya's suite into a colorful surrealist masterpiece. From the numbered edition of 200, each piece is hand signed by Salvador Dali and is a genuine rarity for the Dali and Goya admirers.
Changes in Great Masterpieces
In the early 1950 Dali was commissioned by the Italian government to create illustrations of the text of Dante's Divine Comedy to be published by La Libreria dello Stato in honor of the upcoming septocentennial of the poet's birth. There was, of course, negative feedback from Italians who thought it distasteful to have a Spanish artist and an irreverent Surrealist at that, be hired to illustrate what was widely considered to be the greatest and most respected epic poem in their nation's history.
When the project was eventually dropped by the Italian government Dali brought what was created thus far to old friend and French art publisher Joseph Foret, who immediately found support for Dante's illustrations with Parisian publishing house Editions d'art les Heaures Claires. Over nine years in the making, the works were completed in 1960 and subsequently published as a set of six volumes between 1960 and 1964.
The suite, comprised of 101 watercolors, contains incredible imagery ranging from the grotesque to the sublime as our artist follows Dante from the deepest circles of Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory, and into heavenly Paradise. These works have been reproduced by the technique of wood engraving, engravers having carved 3,500 blocks for the prints, approximately 35 separate blocks per print. Dali himself thought this suite to be one of the most important of his career and it is considered by many today to be his most incredible and notable work.
In 1972 Dali created the imaginative Surrealistic Florals, a 15 piece portfolio of hand-signed and numbered lithographs with original etching. A longtime collector of scientific books and rare illustrations from cabinets of curiosities, Dali recreates some of his favorite flowers by uniting them with familiar symbols seen throughout much of his work. Dali's clever play-on-words is seen in this suite with two lips growing from tulips and eyes bulging from an iris blossom.
In 1969 Dali created a series of 11 drypoint etchings with hand coloring entitled Les Hippies. The inspiration for this suite came from photographs taken in India by his longtime friend and publisher, Pierre Argillet. The etchings reveal the superb, spontaneous and consummate technique of the artist at the peak of his maturity. Outlandish, surrealist characters or situations appear in these 11 images through intricate whirls and golden halos. Each piece is hand signed on Japon paper and measures 26" x 20".
Memories of Surrealism
Created in 1971, Memories of Surrealism consists of 12 hand-signed lithographs with etching, printed in colors. This suite is the quintessential example of Dalinian symbolism and surrealism. Included in these works are crutches, clocks, butterflies, Gala and Dali himself; all important symbols that describe Dali's artistic progress. Perhaps more so than any other portfolio created by the artist, Memories of Surrealism provides a glimpse into the most creative corners of Dali's eccentric mind.
To create the Mythology portfolio, Dali drew closely upon the symbolism of ancient Greek legends. To illustrate these works, Dali used his own technique called hazard objectif, or the meaningful manifestation of chance. He would begin with an abstract smudge, and from this smudge develop the overlying theme of the work. Dali considered this mark his sign of Fate, much like the Pythia of Delphi interpreting the Oracle from a smoke filled cave. This is particularly noticeable in his etchings entitled: Oedipus and Sphinx, Theseus and Minotaurus, Jupiter, Pegasus, and The Milky Way. In the creation process of this suite, Dali experimented with a variety of unusual tools such as chisels, nails, wheels and even a real octopus immersed in acid, which left its imprint on the Medusa image. The suite was published between 1963 and 1965 and contains 16 mixed media prints with engraving, drypoint and hand coloring; each measuring 22" x 30".
Le Paradis Terrestre
Regarded as one of the most important works in literature, John Milton’s Paradise Lost was illustrated in ten color etchings by master Salvador Dalí in 1974. The simplicity of line and careful draftsmanship exude the very turmoil of man’s battle with the temptation of Satan. A small edition of 150 was created on Rives paper and is noted as having some of Dalí’s sharpest lines. These hand signed etchings are an important addition for the collector of modern art and connoisseur of the world’s finest literature.
Petit nus - Les Amours de Cassandre
Petit nus d'Apollinaire
Published in 1970 by EGI/Vanguard Studios in Beverly Hills, Dalí’s “Symbols Suite” is an extremely rare series of six signed and numbered etchings from an edition of 150 and is a great example of some of his most commonly used imagery. The image of the ant is quite common and is a references to death and decay, reminding us of human
mortality and impermanence. Also common is his usage of a horse figure, which often represents the Pegasus. The figure of Don Quixote was of particular interest to Dalí, as the story tells of an idealistic Spanish nobleman who fancied himself a knight fighting the world’s injustices. Iconically, the Devil’s head, the dragon and the angel are also all commonplace in Dalí’s artwork.
Dali's 1966/7 transformation Picasso's famous "Tauromaquia Suite" of 1957-59 was an extension of the lifelong artistic dialog carried on between the two artists. These astonishing works are teeming with the most iconic of Dalinian imagery. Encompassing all aspects of the sport as seen through the eyes of the Surrealist master, Dali is not timid with his numerous references to Catholicism, the Spanish court, and his criticism of each.
Spanish-style bullfighting is normally fatal for the bull, and it is very dangerous for the matador. The aesthetic of bullfighting is based on the interaction of the man and the bull. Rather than a competitive sport, the bullfight is more of a ritual which is judged by aficionados (bullfighting fans) based on artistic impression and command. Ernest Hemingway said of it in his 1932 non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon "Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honour."
This remarkable suite contains 7 etchings with original remarques on special Japan Paper and is hand-signed by the artist. William Bennett Modern is honored to be able to present these spectacular works for acquisition individually and as a rarely available complete portfolio.
Original Drawings and Paintings
Rare Individual Prints
Dali illustrates Casanova. This suite is comprised of 14 full page original engravings with lithographic color after the original watercolors. Published in 1967, Dali illustrates seven tales written by Jacques Casanova, the famous adventurer, author and womanizer. The stories include: Six oeufs; Du beurre, du miel, et du safran; L’amour sommelier; Un ambigu stimulant; Le souper de Nina; Le jeu des huitres; and En attendant le chocolat.
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
In 1966 Dali illustrated the Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen. A Danish writer, Andersen is remembered as one of the world’s greatest story tellers and beloved children’s author writing more than 150 fairy tales that have been translated into over 100 languages. His stories teach us that appearances can be deceiving, warn against vanity and that there is a magical beauty even within the most unlikely characters. Illustrations include The Red Shoes, The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.