News. Exhibition at the Theatre-Museum devoted to Dalí's sister

Figueres, 17 July 2007

The presentation was given by Montse Aguer, Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, and Antoni Pitxot, Director of the Theatre-Museum, both trustees of the Dalí Foundation.

As from today, the three oil paintings from the private collection can also be seen in the Dalí Foundation’s on-line Catalogue Raisonné, thus fulfilling one of the main objectives of the Gala-Salvador Foundation, consisting in cataloguing the artist’s entire production, a task being carried out by the Centre for Dalinian Studies.

The works that form part of this exhibition, which we can view in the Fishmongers’ Room at the Theatre-Museum, are pieces from the artist’s youthful years, when landscape and family were habitual themes, though Dalí was by then seeking out a personal language through them.

The creative process is here based on a superimposition of layers of influences, in sharp twists and turns of stylistic orientation, in formal novelties or in the development of forms and colours.

One of the young Dalí’s favourite models was his sister, Anna Maria. She herself tells us: “Over the hours that I spent as his model I didn’t tire of looking at this landscape that forever more formed part of me. While he painted me, I was beside a window, and that is why my eyes had time to recreate themselves on the tiniest details”.

Anna Maria Dalí is presented to us here in various portraits. One of them, the one not previously shown to date, is his Portrait of the Artist’s Sister, doubtless painted at the same time, in 1920, as the Portrait of my father. In the latter there is a female figure carrying a bowl of fruit in her hands: Anna Maria aged twelve years, a detail that allows us to situate this portrait, with the village of Cadaqués in the background, around the year 1920. Dalí paints it in the manner of his Self-Portrait with Raphaelesque Neck, of markedly Impressionist technique, probably in the studio that his father rented beside the Es Llaner house, where the family spent the summers and that was to become Anna Maria’s residence on the death of her father. Accompanying this so-far unknown portrait we find the works Portrait of the Artist’s Sister, ca 1923; Portrait of my Sister, 1925, both belonging to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation collection, and a further two oil paintings that had only been seen since 1927 in the form of black-and-white photographic reproductions dating from the period. We refer to Girl Sewing (1926) and Anna Maria (also 1926).

The first time that Dalí exhibited them was at the prestigious Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona, from 31 December 1926 to 14 January 1927, where he presented a set of seven drawings and 23 paintings, notable amongst which were Anna Maria (painting on copper), Girl Sewing, and two of the three drawings that appear under the title Study for the Anna Maria painting, which works we can see for two months from today at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. The exhibition was very widely reported in the press. M. A. Cassanyes, writing in L’Amic de les Arts, commented: “[...] If Salvador Dalí’s first exhibition in 1925 was good and revealed a great pictorial temperament, the 1926 one was better still, even exceeding the hopes that the first had kindled; this must be said clearly, and Dalí’s work must be held aloft as a recruiting banner, however much this might go against the stagnant oracles of non-inclusive artistic cliques, provincial fuddy-duddies whose envy blinds talent. [...] But when this formalistic sense is enlivened by acute and profound contemplation, Salvador Dalí then manages to create canvases as excellent as this “Girl Sewing” reproduced here, and this in a precise, lucidly composed and orderly manner, yet full of contained life and penetrating gentleness, in which even the influences, only natural in the work of a young artist (it is not hard, for example, to see in this painting guidelines from Severini and Schrimpf), have been healthily assimilated and placed at the disposal of a highly characteristic and personal work”.

Anna Maria (painting on copper) and one of the other paintings, Basket of Bread, also presented at this exhibition, were exhibited in 1928 at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh at the Twenty-Seventh International Exhibition of Paintings. Anna Maria herself explains the reception they met with: “This exhibition’s success lay not only in the press and in sales, but in the fact that the work as a whole on exhibition attracted attention abroad. A representative of the Carnegie Institute came to Figueres to take two of the paintings away to the Pittsburgh exhibition, where the paintings met with definitive success. The Basket of Bread was acquired by the city’s Museum of Modern Art, and if they did not get hold of Anna Maria it was only because my father did not want to sell it, because it was a picture of me”.

As well as the works mentioned, the exhibition is completed with the following works from the Dalí Foundation: two studies for Girl Sewing from 1926, the drawing Anna Maria Sleeping, ca 1926, and Study for Anna Maria also from 1926. Thanks to this, the exhibition sets out to pay homage to Anna Maria, the painter’s sister, and to lend added value to the night visit to the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, which in this sixteenth edition is opening its doors from 28 July to 2 September, from 10 p.m. through to one o’clock in the morning.

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The unknown portrait of Anna Maria The unknown portrait of Anna Maria


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