Figueres, 7 June 2010
The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí presented to the media the drawings, manuscripts and photographs (some not shown previously) it had acquired over the last two years. This documentation forms part of the collection of the Centre for Dalinian Studies and serves for undertaking more thorough studies on the artistic path and life of Salvador Dalí, researched at internal level.
The objective of the Foundation’s acquisitions policy is to ensure that the Figueres museum remains an essential element for understanding the pictorial evolution, life and thought of Salvador Dalí.
The Foundation purchases not only pictorial work but also various kinds of documents, as the Centre for Dalinian Studies is constantly acquiring books and magazines and — though in smaller amounts and less frequently — photographs, booklets and manuscripts. This is usually done at auction houses or from private collectors, and is paid for entirely from the Dalí Foundation’s self-earned funds. Over the last two years the Dalí Foundation has invested over 400,000 euros in this type of documentation. While not as spectacular as the master’s paintings, the documents do serve to undertake a more thorough study of Salvador Dalí’s artistic facets. These kinds of documents facilitate not only the day-to-day work of the Centre for Dalinian Studies but also that of students doing work on the painter, who go there to consult the materials.
The items shown at the press conference are original works, for the most part not shown before, and basically consisting of drawings, manuscripts and photographs.
One of the unpublished drawings refers to some stories he wrote for his sister (1916-17) to keep her amused while she was recovering from an illness. It is a strip possibly intended for an illustrated story or comic.
Dating from 1926 is an incomplete letter from Salvador Dalí to Luis Buñuel, which the Foundation acquired at an auction. It comprises eight hand-written pages in which the painter explains what he is working on and recounts the latest news: he mentions the text on Saint Sebastian that he was about to publish, his stay in Cadaqués and an episode experienced in Madrid. He tells Buñuel that he had finally been expelled from San Fernando Fine Arts Academy and that in the autumn he would be starting military service. Part of the letter is written on sheets of paper from his father’s notary public practice.
Another acquisition consists of a set of drawings, manuscripts and first editions of books relating to Dalí the Surrealist. These documents are highly valuable objects of art in themselves, while their content marks them as exceptional. Thus we have:
1) Bound document containing a copy of the French edition of Salvador Dalí’s poem, Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) and a further two pages of drafts of the text. The previous owner had had another two handwritten pages also bound. There are also drafts for two articles by the painter published in magazines of the Surrealist group. The first is an excerpt of the article published in Minotaure (June 1933) under the title “Interprétation paranoïaque-critique de l'image obsédante, ‘L'Angelus de Millet’", and the second includes ideas for the article “Les Idées lumineuses ‘Nous ne mangeons pas de cette lumière-là’" published in L'Usage de la Parole in February 1940. These manuscripts are accompanied by some very interesting drawings: three preparatory studies for the 1937 oil painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus from the collection of the Tate Modern in London, which had been shown at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in the autumn of 2008, as well as a set of drawings on erotic themes, also dating from the 1930s.
2) Parchment-bound document consisting in copy no. 4 of the French edition of the Ode to Salvador Dalí by Federico García Lorca, published in 1938 by the GLM publishing house. It was accompanied by three handwritten pages (the translated poem), probably written by Paul Éluard who, along with Louis Parrot, together sign the translation. We also find some magnificent drawings, notable among which are two studies for the 1931 oil painting The Old Age of William Tell.
3) Another bound document. This is a copy of the book by René Crevel, Dalí ou l’anti-obscurantisme, from 1931, which had formed part of Paul Éluard’s library, as shown by the author’s dedication to the poet. It further includes a drawing dated 1923, a small study for the work Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) (c. 1936) and a draft of a letter by Salvador Dalí, possibly to André Breton, in which he explains the subject of his forthcoming article on the object.
4) This last item, also dating from the 1930s, was also purchased at an auction. It is the script for a show that was not produced in the end, based on one of the key themes of reflection for the painter around that time: The Angelus by Millet. The script is accompanied by some most interesting preparatory drawings with descriptions of a couple of scenes and one of the backdrop curtains for the show. There is also a letter to an unknown person, setting out technical issues for making the work.
Finally, we might note a set of photographs, most of them never shown before, completing the collection of snapshots from the 1930s, right in the middle of the Surrealist period.