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Salvador Dalí: A Collector’s Guide

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPANISH SURREALIST ARTIST, SALVADOR DALÍ.

Works featured on offer in West Chelsea Contemporary.

Salvador Dalí

Famously known for the unforgettable role he played in the Surrealist movement, Salvador Dalí treated his life as a performance and poked at the paranoia and fear that underlines our everyday lives. Although Dalí denounced Surrealism during his artistic career, his late work, which can be found at West Chelsea Contemporary, proves that the strange will always be a part of Dalí. 

Read on below to discover five things any art lover should know about Salvador Dalí. 

  1. Dalí’s upbringing is as strange as himself. Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí Domènech was born May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain. Originally belonging to his older brother, the name Salvador passed onto him after his brother’s death before Dalí’s was born. While his father, also named Salvador, was a short-tempered, authoritarian legal official, his mother, who had an artistic background, encouraged his creativity. His mother died when he was only 16 and a year later his father married her sister. After one year at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, the artist underwent expulsion for proclaiming his professors inferiority during an exam that he refused to take. Dalí was soon adopted into the Surrealist movement by Joan Miró and recognized as its leading artist by 1933. He was described by André Breton as “synonymous with revelation in the most resplendent sense of the word.”
Salvador Dalí, SURREALISTIC BULLFIGHT “BULLFIGHT WITH DRAWER XLIII/C” hand-colored drypoint etching (1967) available at West Chelsea Contemporary
  1.  His approach to Surrealism utilizes paranoia and fear to evoke subconscious thoughts for his viewer and himself. This approach comes from Freudian theory focused on sexual repression taking form in dreams and delusions, which initially attracted Dalí to surrealism. Freudian imagery, such as staircases, keys, and dripping candles make frequent appearances in Dalí’s surrealist artwork. Subsequently, many of his work’s settings take place in a dreamlike flatland that has no implications of reality. Dalí’s work draws from his paranoia and fear, as seen in the crickets that are recurrent in his work, a bug that terrified the artist even as a child. His innate ability to replicate the world around him with his paintbrush brought his mutated creations to life with powerful effects. He did more than painting, though; a short film he created in Paris with director Luis Buñuel titled Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) proved to be one of his most famous works. The film channels the feeling of paranoia, featuring ants devouring a rotting hand, a razor blade hovering above an eye, and a priest towing dead donkeys.
Salvador Dalí, GOLDEN VEAL PLATE ceramic plate, available at West Chelsea Contemporary
  1. Salvador Dalí denounced Surrealism in 1941. After leaving the Surrealist movement over political conflicts, Dalí proclaimed that he was no longer a surrealist painter, but instead a classic painter with the likes of the old masters. During this time, he entered a period considered the “Dalí Renaissance”. Dalí lost interest in Freudian theory and began shifting towards atomic physics and relevant social topics, as seen in his Mao Zedong and Hippies series at WCC. This shift goes alongside WWII and the existence of the atomic bomb. At this time, Dalí began his nuclear mysticism period, where he explored science, psychology, religion, and mythology. His late works are vital in understanding the progression of Dalí’s career and notorious psychological decline. Dalí lived through multiple moments of turmoil in history, translatable in his late work. Many works from this period are never-before-seen pieces, some of which are on display at WCC for the Austin International Art Fair. 
Salvador Dalí, MYTHOLOGY “ATHENA XL/C” Original hand-colored copper etching (1965) available at West Chelsea Contemporary
  1. He loves provocative public stunts. We must remember that Salvador was more than an artist, he was a performer who always sought the limelight. The eccentricity of his work reflected his life, which mostly consisted of public stunts that reaffirmed his truly creative spirit. In one instance, Dalí arrived at a lecture in a Rolls Royce filled to the brim with cauliflower. In another, he attached himself to machines recording his brain waves and blood pressure during a book signing, then gave the data to the purchaser. One of his most famous stunts was when he wore a scuba suit to a lecture and almost suffocated due to the air-tight, soundproof helmet he was wearing. The audience, however, assumed his flailing and spazzing movements were a part of the act. While many of these stunts were for fun, sometimes Dalí’s performative actions reflected his reaction to certain situations. For example, when he threw both a bathtub and himself through his instillation for a Bonwit Teller display in Manhattan that he realized had been rearranged. 
  1. His career intersected with Pop Art legends like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Dalí continued painting into the 1950s and 60s, and his theatrical persona and established artistic fame most definitely attracted these artists to him. Dalí was in close proximity to this new generation of artists and even sat in for one of Warhol’s screen tests. His exposure to Pop Art is likely a contributing factor to the appearance and creation of his late work. This exposure was also a display of a modern artist’s introduction and acclimation to the newfound contemporary art world. Learn more about Dalí and his relationship to other pop artists, particularly Andy Warhol, at the Salvador Dalí Museum.


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What’s on now at WCC:

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West Chelsea Contemporary presents the Austin International Art Fair, a 7 week long, large-scale immersive exhibition featuring rare works by an impressive roster of international art world masters. Included in the show is father of Surrealism Salvador Dalí with an exceptional selection from the Argillet Collection. Additional featured artists include: Neo-surrealist Australian artist Gil Bruvel, Gary James McQueen, contemporary Chinese artists Zhang Xiao Gang, Yue Min Jun, and Zao Wu Ki, as well as Neo-Pop Japanese artists Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.

Salvador Dalí | Zhang Xiaogang | Takashi Murakami | Yoshitomo Nara | Gil Bruvel | Yue Minjun | Gary James McQueen | The Connor Brothers | Edward Burtynsky | Maurizio Cattelan | The Love Child | Sofia Cianciulli | Peter Doig | Roberto Dutesco | Kate Garner | Claude Gassian | Damien Hirst | Liu Bolin | Raphael Mazzucco | Vik Muniz | Lyora Pissarro | Gerhard Richter | Gillie & Marc Schattner | Mila Sketch | Hunt Slonem | Matthew Trujillo | Victor Vasarely | Antoine Verglas | Albert Watson | Zao Wou-ki | Rimi Yang | Russell Young | Zhong Biao

Reach out today to inquire or acquire.

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