Opening at the REDSEA Gallery on Saturday is an exhibition that will offer a very personal perspective of the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. SALVADOR DALI: The Argillet Collection will feature 112 etchings, drawings, and tapestries from the renowned Pierre Argillet Collection, all of which will be available for private acquisition. Seen for the very first time in Asia, the collection provides a glimpse into the bond Dali had with Pierre Argillet, his publisher, through their many years of collaboration and friendship.
Dali with Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The collection is being brought over to Singapore by Pierre Argillet’s daughter, Christine Argillet, who in growing up in the presence of the great artist, will offer a personal insight into the collection. Madame Agrillet, who was also kind enough in allowing me to put some questions to her via email (see below), had this to say about bringing the exhibition in:
“This presentation is a tribute to the work of my father, Pierre Argillet, as an extraordinary publisher of the Dada and Surrealist group. This collection reflects his constant endeavour and his close collaboration with the artists of these two movements, especially Salvador Dali. My goal is to have this collection presented in the finest galleries and museums throughout the world,”
Argus in color, Individual Etchings, 1963. 57 x 77cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
All works in the collection have been authenticated and signed by Salvador Dali and have never before left the Collection. The exhibition will be opened from 22 March to 20 April 2014.
Portrait of Marguerite Faust, 1968. 38 x 28cm. Drypoint etchings with roulette, ruby & diamond Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
An interview with Madame Christine Agrillet
Christine Argillet. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Growing up around Dali: Dali was a very kind uncle for me, simple in his daily life, yet very inventive. Anything at home was subject to turning it into another use, another tool. Dali had a very special way of envisioning or reconsidering things.
For instance: one day, his wife Gala had told him that their radiators were really ugly. Dali decided to hide them behind a wood panel and painted radiators over it. The most artistic radiators…
There was always this kind of light humor, this way of making fun out of everything with a gentle surrealist attitude.
Dali was at the same time a workaholic and a very free person. He would strive to paint with a one-hair brush or he would throw acid on copper plates to create uncertain smudges that would challenge him to create a very figurative subject next to these abstract shapes. We have exhibiting here in Singapore the series of the Mythology etchings that was created using this process.
Dali’s influence on her: I think both Dali’s incredible work on himself and his total freedom have impressed me and certainly have had an influence on my life.
Behind the public persona: Dali could be very eccentric in public to grab attention, but he could be totally absorbed in his paintings and forget about anything around him for hours or days. I think that the public persona he created was at the opposite of his real character.
Have her impressions of Dali been changed since childhood: No, there was a very charming Dali, elegant, simple, and creative that I knew and there was this opposite: the public persona. For me, they were two different persons. My father used to say that Dali was shy and that he was exaggerating everything while facing a public.
The collection: Many works in our collection mean a lot for me. My father had a passion for Dali’s drawings and he would often meet with Dali, speak of his projects with him. The Aubusson tapestries became something extraordinary as Dali wanted to cover the walls of his museums with this traditional technique. We have a film where we see Dali discovering these hand woven pieces in my father’s castle. There were also watercolours, drawings, sculptures, incredible telegrams between Picasso and Dali. All these constitute a part of my childhood.
On bringing the collection over to Singapore: This collection has never been seen in Singapore. My intention is to the show the wonderful collaboration of an artist and a publisher. The strong friendship between both Dali and my father allowed wonderful artworks to come to light. This is at the same time a tribute to Dali as a great etcher and a tribute to my father as a talented facilitator.
Individual Bullfight, Individual Etchings, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Colour-printed heliogravure with stencil, Arches. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
About Pierre Argilllet:
The 1914-18 War Apollinaire (Secret Poems), 1967. 39 x 28cm. Original etching reworked in drypoint. Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Pierre Argillet was an avid collector of works by futurists, dadaists and surrealists, and very early on, met the major artists of the 20th century. In 1930, at the age of twenty, Argillet was deeply impressed by the “Les Chants de Maldoror” of Lautreamont. He began a spiritual journey along a path that was originated by Rimbaud and later pursued by Lautreamont, Marinetti, Andre Breton, Tzara and Chirico. He counted Duchamp and Jean Arp among his acquaintances, but when he met Dali, complicity led to a life-long friendship that lasted until the painter’s death in 1989.
Be it luck or fate, Dali’s delirious vision led to a long and fruitful collaboration between artist and publisher. They produced nearly 200 etchings. To name a few: la Mythologie (16 planches), le Christ, Sainte-Anne, l’Incantation. In 1966, Dali reworked 7 pieces of the Bullfight set of Picasso, giving them the Dali touch. In 1968, Dali illustrated “ la Nuit de Walpurgis “ of Faust (21 pieces) using rubies and diamonds as engraving tools, a technique that lent an incomparable delicacy to the design; next came the “ Poemes “ of Ronsard (18 pieces) and Apollinaire (18 pieces) . In 1969, Dali created “ Venus a la fourrure “ after Sacher Masoch (20 pieces), and between 1970-71, the Suites of Don Juan (3 pieces) and Hippies (11 pieces).
In 1974, artist and publisher parted their ways. Pierre Argillet would only accept etchings done in the traditional way, on copper, and refused to go along with Dali’s desire to make photo-based lithographs. But by using this process, Dali went on to produce a large number of works that appealed to a more widespread audience than ever before, but they were also subject to more criticism.
Piano under the snow Surrealist Bullfighter, 1966. 51 x 66cm. Heliogravures reworked in drypoint hand-coloured with stencil, Japanese paper. © CHRISTINE ARGILLET ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.