Figueres, 13th November, 2017
A temporary exhibition was inaugurated at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. Ms. Montse Aguer, Director of the Dalí Museums and exhibition's curator described it as a way of evoking the monographic show at Dalmau Galleries of year 1925, where Figure in Profile was exhibited for the first time and only. It's a portrait of Dalí's sister, Anna Maria, the Dalí Foundation bought last March at Bonham's London.
The temporary exhibit we are presenting is entitled Salvador Dalí, Apprentice Painter and can be seen from tomorrow 14th November until the end of 2018 in one of the Loggias Room, at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. We wanted to coincide with the day the exhibition at Dalmau Galleries opened in 1925.
Concept and contents
On 14th November 1925, Salvador Dalí, who was only twenty-one years old, held a solo exhibition of 17 paintings and 5 drawings at Dalmau Galleries -the least known of them all entitled Figure in Profile.
The press of the time covered the exhibition by this apprentice painter in great depth. All observed in Salvador Dalí the simultaneous presence of the strong cubist influence of the avant-gardes and a style that referenced tradition and, specifically, Ingres. Three quotes that the painter included in the exhibition catalogue are in fact taken from this book in which Ingres reflects on painting and expresses some artistic concepts that Dalí was working with at that time.
Dalí himself later referred to this initial period of constant experimentation, so evident in the Dalmau exhibition: "I at the time was painting Cadaqués landscapes, my father, my sister, everything that could be a subject for my frenzied brush. I was paying close attention to Chirico's paintings, through the magazines. I was contributing to Barcelona's Gaseta de las Arts and L'Amic de les arts; and one book was always at my bedside, Ingres' Thoughts. I decided I would take some essential notes out of it as preface to my first one-man show, at the Dalmau Galleries, Barcelona, in November 1925.
In this first solo exhibition, Dalí presented 17 oil paintings and 5 drawings. Six of the paintings exhibited were portraits of his sister Anna Maria, almost always with her back to the viewer, accompanied by works chiefly featuring still lives and the landscape.
Figure in Profile
Figure in Profile was acquired for 500 pesetas by the pharmacist and family friend Joaquim Cusí i Furtunet. It was not exhibited again until it was auctioned at Bonham's in London on 2 March 2017, when the Fundació Dalí purchased it. The only record of the painting hitherto encountered is a black and white reproduction published in the magazine Atlántico in 1929.
The central figure in the painting is the artist's sister, Anna Maria, his main model until Gala arrived in 1929. Anna Maria wrote about the moments of close rapport with her brother: "My brother painted countless portraits of me during that period. Many of them were mere studies of curls and of a shoulder always uncovered. He painted patiently, tirelessly, and posing for him did not tire me at all, as I have never been bored by staying still and silent." She continued: "During the hours that I modelled for him, I never tired of looking at that landscape which has forever been a part of my life. He always painted me close to a window".
The simplicity of design and approach to the room's empty spaces evoke a peaceful atmosphere. The three-quarter view of the girl's profile and the direction of her gaze yield gentle movement and guide the viewer's full attention towards the top left quadrant of the work, where the landscape of Cadaqués is visible through the window. The landscape can clearly be identified as Es Sortell, an area near the home of the Pichots, a family of artists to whom the Dalís were very close. It shows the characteristic bridge connecting it to the adjacent island, which Dalí could see from the window of his studio at his father's home in Es Llaner.
The softness of colour intensifies in the zone emphasised by thicker brushstrokes that texture the landscape with sky blues, whites and ochres; in the white and bluish greens of the window frame, and in the flesh and pink tones of the figure and her dress. In contrast, the room's shadows are painted predominantly in dark colours, greys and browns applied with a thin, diluted pictorial layer that is almost transparent in the area of the buttocks. Figure in Profile is a portrait and representation that transcends the strictly real, distils the wisdom of the masters and a vehement desire to experiment. The painting reveals a purposeful distance from the enthusiastically colourful palette of impressionism and, rather, resembles the approaches of cubism and the magazine Valori Plastici, all framed in the essential, eternal and future iconic landscape of Cadaqués. This portrait points to the future Salvador Dalí and like the other four oil paintings owned by the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí that accompany and complement it in this exhibition, exemplifies Salvador Dalí's learning period with absolute clarity.
The staging of the exhibition has been designed by Pep Canaleta of 3carme33 and the graphic design by Alex Gifreu. It evokes the decoration of Dalmau Galleries in 1925 where the first one-man show of young Dalí took place. The walls have been covered with a pink silk cloth and a large wooden base has been placed in the room. There is also a screen where you can see the works included in the Dalmau Galleries exhibition which don't belong to the Dalí Foundation.
The Educational Service has produced a booklet with texts by Montse Aguer and the collaboration of Irene Civil, Head of Conservation and Restoration. It has been coordinated by Cuca Costa, of the Centre for Dalinian Studies. A campaign has been designed for social media that show three audio-visual documents produced by DocDoc Films. Once the exhibition is open, they will be presented in our website as a whole, in a section devoted to the exhibition.