Les Chants de Maldoror

  • Les Chants de Maldoror

    Les Chants de Maldoror

The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí inaugurated at the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol this year's temporary exhibition, under the title Les Chants de Maldoror. The exhibition can be seen from 13th March, the day the Castle re-opened to the public, to remain open now for the rest of the year, until 31 December 2010.

The inauguration ceremony was conducted by the Rt. Hon. Joaquim Nadal, Minister for Territorial Policy and Public Works of the Government of Catalonia (the Generalitat), and on behalf of the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, by Ramon Boixadós, Chairman, Montse Aguer, Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, and Juliette Murphy, graphic works specialist and curator of this exhibition.

Les Chants de Maldoror. Explanation
With this exhibition, the Dalí Foundation is following along the line initiated last year of exhibiting graphic work from the Foundation's collection. On this occasion it is presenting a Surrealist work - the illustrated artist's book Les Chants de Maldoror, dating from 1934. The exhibition comprises 38 items: the thirty photogravures that make up the series, the text part of the book, three proof etchings and four of the so-far unshown preparatory drawings for this publication. The two exhibitions of graphic art organised at Púbol (the first was Alchimie des Philosophes, and is now followed by this exhibition) result from the investigative work the Dalí Foundation has been carrying out since 2002 in collaboration with the Fine Arts Faculty of the Universitat de Barcelona, based on the documentation and on the physical-chemical characterisation of materials and techniques from the Foundation collection. Graphic work accounts for a significant part of the Dalinian production, and an in-depth study of it shows the artist's great commitment to this discipline.

The publication
The book is an excellent example of an illustrated book, or livre d'artiste, a work conceived with the idea of combining an author text with artist illustrations. Les Chants de Maldoror contains thirty photogravures and twelve vignettes which were created by Dalí over the course of 1933 and 1934 to illustrate the book by Isidore Ducasse, count of Lautréamont. Originally written in 1869, this is a rebellious and provocative work recognised by Surrealists as a masterpiece in the history of literature. Although Dalí started work on the series in Portlligat, the process of actually setting up the work and printing the book was done in Paris, at the workshops of Roger Lacourière for the engraving and of Philippe Gonin for the typesetting.

The Foundation retains various preparatory drawings, four of which have not been shown before but can now be seen at Púbol. Our collection also conserves a number of proofs for this series in the form of etchings and drypoint, three of which have been chosen to show how the chalcographic (copper-based) work evolved before the printing of the definitive publication.

In Les Chants de Maldoror, Dalí makes repeated references to the Angelus, the painting by Millet, a work that obsessed him in that period and that appears in various paintings of his dating from the 'thirties, as well as spurring him to write his book The Tragic Myth of the Millet's "Angelus". At the launch of the book at Galerie Quatre Chemins in Paris between 20 June and 13 July 1934, Dalí included a text based on the "paranoiac-critical interpretation of the obsessive image of Millet's Angelus" in the exhibition brochure. In that text he highlights the interrelationship between his system of paranoiac-critical interpretation and the work of Lautréamont and Millet, whose opposed artistic visions the artist was to use as a basis for exploring the themes that predominate in this series: sexuality, cruelty and death.

Montage and catalogue
The montage of the exhibition was designed by Pep Canaleta of 3carme33 and the graphic elements by Alex Gifreu. Sponsored by "la Caixa" savings bank, the catalogue was produced by Distribucions d'Art Surrealista and designed by Alex Gifreu. The authors of the catalogue articles were Montse Aguer, Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, Juliette Murphy, Dalí Foundation conservator, Pilar Parcerisas, art historian, and Elisa Díaz, assistant lecturer in the Fine Arts Faculty at the Universitat de Barcelona.

The Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol opens its doors to the public on 13th March, while the Salvador Dalí House in Portlligat opened on 9 February last.

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