Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Etchings from the Pierre Argillet Collection, 1960-1972
Pierre Argillet was an avid collector of works by futurists, dadaists and surrealists, and very early on, met the major artists of the 20th century.
In 1930, at the age of twenty, Argillet was deeply impressed by the “Chants de Maldoror ” of Lautreamont. He began a spiritual journey along a path that was originated by Rimbaud and later pursued by Lautreamont, Marinetti, Andre Breton, Tzara and Chirico. He counted Duchamp and Jean Arp among his acquaintances, but when he met Dali, complicity led to a life-long friendship that lasted until the painter’s death in 1989.
Be it luck or fate, Dali’s delirious vision led to a long and fruitful collaboration between artist and publisher. They produced nearly 200 etchings. To name a few: la Mythologie (16 planches), le Christ, Sainte-Anne, l’Incantation. In 1966, Dali reworked 7 pieces of the Bullfight set of Picasso, giving them the Dali touch. He continued to reinterpret the works of his fellow Catalonian, overlaying them with his macabre, yet humorous vision. He ridicules bishops’ benedictions. Images hidden in the crowd and arena suggest the skull of a bull fighter. In another etching, a galloping giraffe catches fire as if in a tragicomedy. His subjects vary from windmills, parrots, fish and a statue of a woman occupy another arena. In 1968, Dali illustrated ” la Nuit de Walpurgis ” of Faust (21 pieces) using rubies and diamonds as engraving tools, a technique that lent an incomparable delicacy to the design ; next came the ” Poemes ” of Ronsard (18 pieces) and Apollinaire (18 pieces) . In 1969, Dali created ” Venus a la fourrure ” after Sacher Masoch (20 pieces), and between 1970-71, the Suites of Don Juan (3 pieces) and Hippies (11 pieces).
In 1974, artist and publisher parted their ways. Pierre Argillet would only accept etchings done in the traditional way, on copper, and refused to go along with Dali’s desire to make photo-based lithographs. But by using this process, Dali went on to produce a large number of works that appealed to a more widespread audience than ever before, but they were also subject to more criticism.
The Pierre Argillet Collection demonstrates high standards of quality, and the empassioned collaboration between an artist and his publisher. This ensemble of works has appeared in the best-known museums in the world. Musée Boymans, Rotterdam 1971; Musée Pushkin, Moscou, 1988; Reynolds-Morse Foundation, St Petersburg, Florida; Kunsthaus, Zürich and Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart 1989; Isetan Museum of Art in Tokyo, Daimaru Art Museum, Osaka and the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan, 1990. This collection’s permanent home is at the Museum of Surealism in Melun, France and the Dali Museum in Figueras, Spain.