BLOG June 2016

The Surreal Life: Salvador Daliʼs Lasting Artistic Legacy on Offer at Great Gatsbyʼs Auction Gallery

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was, undoubtedly, one of the most influential and flamboyant artists of the 20th century. Born in 1904 in the city of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain, Dali was raised in a middle class family by a domineering father – the elder Salvador, a lawyer – and a soft-spoken mother who encouraged her son’s artistic endeavors. The surrealistic nature of the young Dali’s upbringing was evident from the start. Believed to be the reincarnation of his brother who tragically died nine months before Salvador was born, Dali held onto this idea for the remainder of his life, and even allowed it to influence some of his earliest artworks.

At the tender age of 12, Dali attended a local drawing school, where he found a mentor in Ramon Pichot and the ideas of Impressionism and, six years later, was accepted into the San Fernando Academy of Art in Madrid. Soon acquiring a reputation as a dandy and bon vivant, the eccentric Dali befriended a group of artists and writers who would later shape a new wave of thinking and expression in Europe, such as Luis Bunuel – with whom Dali would make the controversial film Un Chien Andalou – and Frederico Garcia Lorca, the celebrated Spanish poet and playwright. Dali’s technical mastery of painting became internationally known when his traditional still life Basket of Bread was exhibited at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1928, a work which would feel like a radical departure from Dali’s aesthetic, once he experimented with Cubism and became one of the first icons of the Surrealist movement.

El Cid - Rendering of the famed Castilian nobleman on horseback.

With a career that spawned masterworks such as The Persistence of Memory, Swans Reflecting Elephants, Dream Caused by Flight of a Bee, and Christ of St. John of the Cross, Dali would continue to delight, confuse and boggle the minds of his followers, critics and eventual collectors for over sixty years. With his trademark mustache, fashionable dress and outlandish theatrics – such as walking his pet anteater through the streets of Paris and famously quipping “Take drugs? I am drugs!” – Dali inspired legions of artists to appreciate the skills and precision of the Old Masters, while expanding their own interpretations of narrative painting.

Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery is thrilled to be offering two works on paper by the artist, each representing starkly different styles in the artist’s oeuvre; the first, an etching titled ‘El Cid’ and the second, a lithograph titled ‘Goddess of Justice.’ ‘El Cid,’ a fine rendering of the famed Castilian nobleman on horseback, recalls the early work of Dali – and his encounters with fellow Spaniard, Pablo Picasso – while ‘Goddess of Justice’ depicts a wild-haired nude beauty holding a set of scales and a sword with a surreal seascape beyond. Each speaks to the culture and the evolution of the artist, and would make excellent additions to a budding or established collection as icons of 20th century art.

View these and other contemporary works in the online catalogue for Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery’s upcoming sale taking place June 11 and 12, 2016.

2016 | Great Gatsby’s