Works from the Argillet Collection come to San Diego

 

What would it be like growing up in the presence of a great artist, especially one as eccentric and unpredictable as 20th-century surrealist master Salvador Dali? Madame Christine Argillet had that very privilege. She is one of the last living links to Dali, and if you ask her, the artist known during his lifetime for his flamboyance and public theatrics was in fact a very shy person.

 
Madame Argillet is the daughter of Dali’s longtime friend and publisher, Pierre Argillet, the famed purveyor and early proponent of Surrealist and Dada art. Her father died in 2001, since which time Madame Argillet has been the possessor and curator of the largest collection of authenticated Dali works in existence. Selections from the Argillet Collection will be on display and available for purchase through September 6 at Meyer Fine Art, Inc. in San Diego.

 
Featuring more than 100 works spanning the years 1934-1973, the exhibition captures Dali at height of his career, and pieces from the collection have been exhibited at museums throughout the world. The exhibition includes both watercolors and tapestries, but it is primarily a collection of remarkable handmade prints from etchings drawn directly on copper plates. It is also an extremely personal collection, created in close collaboration over four decades of friendship, and Madame Argillet will be on hand to share her memories and discuss the works in person during two very special events August 23 and 24.

 
Dali produced more than 200 thematic suites for Argillet, many of which are represented in the exhibit, including Mythologie, Les Hippies, Faust, Poèmes de Mao Tse Tung, Vénus aux Fourrures, and Don Juan. Copper etching is an extremely demanding process, however, and nearing 70, Dali was ready to give it up in favor of the new lithographic techniques then being employed. It was here Argillet and Dali parted ways professionally. Argillet saw the new processes as little more than signed posters. The handmade prints he published involved enormous input from Dali himself, often requiring a dozen or more trips between artist and printer to achieve the desired result.

 
Argillet was proved correct in that the ease of the lithographic process led to numerous frauds and abuses involving Dali’s works, something that has only added to the value and importance of the Argillet collection, the provenance and authenticity of which is without doubt.

 
According to Madame Argillet, her father often wished Dali was less subject to his public persona, which at times seemed beyond even his own control. Like Breton, the leader of the Surrealists, Argillet believed Dali’s antics detracted from the real seriousness of his work. Dali died in 1989, and while his reputation and the image of his curling mustache remain strong, 25 years after his death his art now speaks increasingly for itself, something it does in volumes in this rare exhibition. (619.358.9512, www.meyerfineartinc.com)   BILL ABRAMS

 

Photography: Courtesy of Madame Christine Argillet   Copyright 2014   All Rights Reserved