The commemoration of the 25th anniversary of inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum took place throughout the course of the second half of 1999. The celebration programme had a number of major and varied events and activities, though the leading players were the 925,626 visitors to the three museums of the Foundation during the year as a whole.
This commemoration took its inspiration directly from the principles laid down in the Foundation's Articles of Association: "to promote, foster, disseminate, enhance, protect and defend" the figure and the work of Salvador Dalí. This was a celebration dedicated to the 10 million visitors the Dalí Theatre-Museum has received over these 25 years it has been in existence.
11 January 2000. Presentation of the new wig in the Mae West Room.
Llongueras and the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation have remodelled one of the most unusual items in the Dalí Theatre-Museum, the wig which forms part of the installation made by Salvador Dalí and Òscar Tusquets in 1974: the Mae West Room.
To halt the deterioration the original wig had undergone, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation sought assistance from Lluís Llongueras. The hairdresser-cum-sculptor, with his technical team and the collaboration of the Conservation Department of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, have been working over the last few months to make a new, large-scale wig for the Mae West Room.
Lluís Llongueras was in fact the creator of the original wig for the Mae West Room, installed in 1976 as part of the permanent sculptural montage made two years earlier by Salvador Dalí and the architect Òscar Tusquets, shortly before the inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum. The wig, of large dimensions (4.40 x 3.46 metres), was entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest made to date. Lluís Llongueras later went to the Dalí Theatre-Museum on several occasions in order to see to the maintenance of the enormous wig. The deterioration of such a fragile item was nevertheless inevitable over the course of 25 years, and made it advisable that it be replaced by a totally new wig. This new wig has the same characteristics that always made the original one of the key features of the Mae West Room, especially when viewing the installation through the reduction lens that converts the sculptural montage into Mae West's face.
The new wig was made using a new acrylic material (artificial hair that resembles natural hair as closely as possible), fabrics and lining materials (16 metres of each), while the movement of the hairstyle was achieved by gluing on fabric strands nearly a kilometre in length with Contactceys adhesive.
The Mae West Room is one of the most representative zones and amongst those most liked by visitors to the Dalí Theatre-Museum. The installation had its origin in the version that Òscar Tusquets made of the Sofa-Saliva-Lips or Saliva-Sofa at the beginning of the 1970s. Basing his idea on the Saliva-Sofa creation, it was Tusquets himself who suggested to Salvador Dalí a three-dimensional recreation of one of the best-known applications of Dalí's iconography to furnishing, taking as starting point the dual-image technique, the collage The Face of Mae West (Usable as a Surrealist Apartment) (c. 1934-35, The Art Institute of Chicago). Enthused by the idea, in 1974 Salvador Dalí decided to carry out the project in one of the rooms of the Dalí Theatre-Museum. And, to complete the installation, in 1976 Dalí and Tusquets commissioned Llongueras to make the first wig for the Mae West Room.
30 December 1999. Laying of the first stone of the monument to Salvador Dalí.
A certain air of surrealism presided over the symbolic act of laying of the first stone of the sculpture dedicated to Salvador Dalí, held today in Figueres. The new N-II main road roundabout at the south entrance to Figueres became for a few minutes the stage for piano performance of the work Nexe by the pianist and composer Santi Escura, beside a six-metre cypress tree, to symbolise the forthcoming construction in that same place of the monument designed by the architect Òscar Tusquets, which will be an enormous steel cypress-fountain 24 metres high. The project was presented on 29 November past to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.
Òscar Tusquets himself stated that "only an Alt Empordà region mayor could have had the idea of staging a piano concert in the middle of a roundabout surrounded by traffic". The architect, who designed the monument, was also of the opinion that "Salvador Dalí would have liked this event very much, and approved of the site chosen for the sculpture". The president of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Ramon Boixadós, explained that this event formed part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum and that the monument – with a budget of 40 million pesetas financed by the Foundation – will be completed by next summer.
20 December 1999. The Minister for Culture of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia inaugurates the exhibition "Salvador Dalí. Dream of Venus".
The Minister for Culture of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, Jordi Vilajoana, today inaugurated the exhibition "Salvador Dalí. Dream of Venus", which can be visited up to 28 February at the New Rooms of the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. Organised by the "la Caixa" Foundation and the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, the exhibition forms part of the commemorative events for the 25th anniversary of inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum. The minister was accompanied by the mayor of Figueres, Joan Armangué; the president of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Ramon Boixadós; the director of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, Antoni Pitxot; and the director and assistant director of the Dalí Study Centre, Fèlix Fanés and Montse Aguer, respectively, who acted as commissioners of the exhibition.
The dream of Venus is the name that Dalí gave to the pavilion he designed for the 1939 World's Fair in New York, and which later served as inspiration for the Dalí Theatre-Museum. During assembly of the pavilion, on an esplanade in the Queens district, the artist fell out with the sponsors, who had altered some of his proposals and thus provoked his displeasure. Indeed, Dalí abandoned the project before its official inauguration on 15 June 1939. Prior to that, he had been involved in one of his famous scandals – breaking a shop window in the Bonwit Teller stores on Fifth Avenue – and had drafted the manifesto Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to his Own Madness, which was released over New York from an aeroplane.
Further information about the exhibition and the catalogue.
29 November 1999. Presentation of the project for the monument To Salvador Dalí, by Òscar Tusquets.
A 24-metre cypress tree, from within which water will gush forth onto a piano, forms the monument which the architect Òscar Tusquets has designed in homage to Salvador Dalí. With a budget of 40 million pesetas, building work on it will start very soon at the southern entrance to Figueres, and it will be presented in the course of the year 2000. Òscar Tusquets, who is a life patron of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, defined the project with these words:
"This fountain is not to the work of Salvador Dalí, but a monument to his person, commissioned by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, the institution's donation to the city on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum.
The idea is therefore to allude to his work, without aiming at directly mimetic reproduction of a particular painting, but rather making a creative interpretation of one of the obsessions of Dalí's oeuvre.
His obsession for cypress trees, impossible cypress trees. This is an obsession that gave rise to many works by the Master, and more specifically to a corporeal work: the cypress tree growing out of a boat, near the entrance to his house in Portlligat. An impossible cypress tree, inherently surrealist, like the one with a white horse or a strange trumpet coming out of it, or the one from which a fountain emerges, or the one that emerges from a grand piano, and so forth, all of them imagined and painted by Salvador.
A big cypress tree, a twenty-four-metre cypress tree, on a scale to match the great roundabout upon which it is set.
A cypress tree which is realistic enough so that, from a distance, it confounds us by its measurements: is it a sculpture or a real cypress tree?
A cypress tree from which water emerges, water that falls on a piano, a piano that is flooded until it overflows from its curved side and over its keyboard, on a pond, a pond trapped by the crater formed by the grand piano as it emerges from the slate circle of Cadaqués that now surrounds it.
In fact, this interpretation is not so very far from the one I made 24 years ago, when I turned Mae West's face into one of the rooms at the Museum in Figueres. In its day, that work enjoyed the enthusiastic complicity of the Master, which is why I make so bold as to imagine that this work would also prove worthy of his approval."
15 November 1999. Presentation of the Owen Cheatham Collection of 39 jewels and 27 drawings by Salvador Dalí. Dalí Theater-Museu.
The latest acquisition of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation includes the thirty-seven gold jewels set with gems of the Owen Cheatham Collection, two jewels made later, twenty-seven drawings and paintings on paper that Salvador Dalí made when designing the jewels, and an exceptional object: a scenic box with glass panels painted by Dalí during his project for the film Babaouo. The whole makes up an extensive collection of work done by the artist between the years 1932 and 1970.
The collection has been acquired from a Japanese company for some 900 million pesetas, with the negotiations coming to an end on 28 May during a trip to Tokyo by a delegation from the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, headed by its President Mr. Ramon Boixadós, advised by two experts from the Spanish Gemology Association. Over the course of recent months, these experts have been cataloguing each of the pieces in collaboration with technicians from the FoundationÍs Conservation Department and the Dalâ Study Centre, and work is now being done ahead of the museum project for future permanent exhibition of the works in the Dalâ Theatre-Museum.
All the pieces in the collection are unique works, and the combination of materials, dimensions and shapes used by Salvador Dalí make it an unrepeatable whole in which the artist captured uniquely the wealth of his iconography. Gold, platinum, precious stones including diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, aquamarines, topazes, etc., which along with pearls, corals and other noble materials combine to lend form to hearts, lips, eyes, vegetable and animal forms, and religious, mythological and anthropomorphic forms. In addition to designing the form of the jewels, Salvador Dalí selected each one of the materials in which they had to be made, not only for their colours or their value but also for the meanings and connotations attributed to each of the precious stones and noble metals. Some of the jewels that form part of this collection – such as Ruby Lips (1949), The Eye of Time (1949), The Royal Heart (1953) and The Space Elephant (1961), amongst others – have become highly famous works and are considered to be as exceptional as some of his paintings.
Referring to these jewels, Salvador Dalí explained: "Without an audience, without the presence of spectators, these jewels would not achieve the function for which they were created. The spectator is therefore the final artist. His eyesight, body and mind – with greater or lesser ability to understand the artistÍs intention – lend life to the jewels."
The history of these jewels began in 1949. The first 22 were acquired by the North American millionaire Cummins Catherwood. Salvador Dalí designed the pieces on paper, with every wealth of detail and considerable precision of shapes materials and colours, while the actual jewellery was made in New York by the Argentinian-born goldsmith Carlos Alemany. In 1958 they were acquired by The Owen Cheatham Foundation, a prestigious North-American foundation created in 1934 that lent the collection of jewels out so that various charitable, educational and cultural institutions could organise exhibitions around them for fund-gathering. The collection was finally deposited at the Richmond Museum of Fine Arts (Virginia). This collection of jewels had already been exhibited at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres in the months of August and September 1973, a year before the museum was actually inaugurated. In 1981 the collection was acquired by a Saudi multi-millionaire, and later by three Japanese companies, the last of which formalised its sale to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.