Alchimie des philosophes

  • Alchimie des philosophes

    Alchimie des philosophes

This year's exhibition at the Gala Dalí Castle of Púbol is entitled Alchimie des philosophes.

See the catalogue of the exhibition.

First exhibition of graphic work
This is the first time that the Dalí Foundation organizes an exhibition dedicated  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 that  comprises  two volumes, with engravings inside, as well as the drypoint tools that the artist used.

The exhibition housed at the Púbol house-museum was curated by  Juliette Murphy and 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, the Director of the Centre for Dalinian Studies, Irene Civil and Juliette Murphy, both Dalí Foundation conservation specialists.

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 characterization 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  volume of work,  creativity and quality of execution.

Dalí was  entranced by the possibilities offered by multiple reproduction: an art form that could make him accessible to a much more numerous and diverse audience.  As a publicist and a rather  extravagant public personality, the artist ensured himself a controversial fame and renown thanks' to his serial-reproduction workIn its capacity as reference  entity in the Dalinian world, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation feels that the time has now come to bolster the artist's prestige in the field of graphic work and give it the place it deserves. Alchimie des philosophes is a work of his mature period that sums up the artist's concerns and  path as an engraver. It is a painstakingly produced publication in the form of an object-book or artist's book, and an example of diversity of techniques, mastery and experimentation. It is also one of the few times when the Dalí Foundation has retained the unused copper plates that were employed to print the edition, drawn directly by Dalí himself using drypoint technique.

The publication
In this work, Dalí combines the prints with ancient alchemy texts (from Chinese, Hebrew, Arabian and other traditions), thereby setting up a dialogue that combines the artist's vision with the written words, revealing a complicity between the poetic and the pictorial aspects. 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 texts through  contemporary imagery.

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, human beings can  accomplish through art in  a short time.

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