Image of the installation
This year's exhibition at Gala Dalí's Castle in Púbol is entitled Alchimie des philosophes.
First exhibition of graphic work
This is the first time that the Dalí Foundation has organised an exhibition devoted to the artist’s graphic work. The exhibition contains fifteen pieces: the ten prints making up the Alchimie des philosophes (1976) series, two original plates engraved by Salvador Dalí, and the artist’s book of the same title and comprising two volumes with the engravings inside, as well as the drypoint tools that the artist used.
The exhibition housed at the Púbol house-museum is under the curatorship of Juliette Murphy, while its montage was designed by Pep Canaleta, 3carme33. Sponsored by the “la Caixa” savings bank, the catalogue is published by Distribucions d’Art Surrealista with design by Alex Gifreu. The catalogue texts were written by Montse Aguer, Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, Irene Civil and Juliette Murphy, both Dalí Foundation conservation specialists.
See the catalogue of the exhibition.
Reasons for the exhibition
This exhibition arises out of the Dalí Foundation’s wish to show a little-known facet of the artist — his graphic work. Major research work has been going on in this field since 2002, based on the documentation available and on characterisation of the physiochemistry of the materials and techniques used on works from the Foundation collection. His graphic work represents an important part of the Dalinian artistic production, in terms of the volume of work and the creativity and quality of its execution.
Dalí felt entranced by the potential offered by multiple reproduction, an art form that brought him to a much more numerous and diverse audience. In his aspect as publicist and more or less extravagant public personality the artist in an ambiguous kind of way ensured himself fame and renown thanks to his serial-reproduction work. As a scientific entity in the Dalinian world, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí feels that the time has now come to bolster the artist’s prestige in the field of graphic work and place it in the position it deserves. Alchimie des philosophes is a work of his mature period that sums up the artist’s concerns and his path as an engraver. It is a painstakingly produced publication in the form of an object-book or artist’s book, an example of diversity of techniques, mastery and experimentation. It is also one of the few times when the Dalí Foundation has retained the copper plates, rendered useless, that were employed to print the edition, drawn directly by Dalí himself using drypoint technique.
In this work Dalí combines the prints with ancient alchemy texts (in the Chinese, Hebrew, Arabian and other traditions), thereby setting up a dialogue that combines the artist’s vision with the written word, revealing a complicity between the poetic and the pictorial. The texts show the way Dalí reflects on the great mysteries of existence, while the prints illustrate the texts, bringing a modern touch to the ancient with contemporary images.
From the Arabic “al-kimia”, the word “alchemy” is thought to have come into the Catalan language through Ramon Llull, the great 13th century Majorcan philosopher and mystic, and a reference figure in Dalí’s work. Known as the “hermetic science”, the origins of alchemy go back to ancient legends and ideologies, and to the Babylonian astrology and cosmology tradition. Those principles incorporate the idea of a natural metamorphosis, the belief that all metals are converted into gold after millions of years. What nature can accomplish only over the course of a long period of time, however, human beings can through their art accomplish in only a short time.