Ritratto di Paul Eluard

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Ritratto di Paul Eluard

Messaggio  LucaMenes il Sab Feb 12, 2011 10:31 am



PORTRAIT DE PAUL ÉLUARD

signed Salvador Dali and dated 29 (lower left)
oil on board
33 by 25cm.
Painted in 1929.

PROVENANCE
Salvador &Gala Dalí
Cécile Eluard, Paris (acquired from the above circa 1982)
Sale: Christie's, New York, 14th November 1989, lot 73
Acquired directly from the above

EXHIBITION
Paris, Galerie Goemans, Salvador Dalí, 1929, no. 9
Paris, Galerie Pierre Colle, Salvador Dalí, 1931, no. 6
New York, Gallery of Modern Art, Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965, 1965-66, no. 29, illustrated
in colour in the catalogue
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Salvador Dalí, rétrospective, 1920-1980, 1979-
80, no. 78, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
London, The Tate Gallery, Dalí, 1980, no. 50
Madrid, Museo Español de Arte Contemporaneo &Barcelona, Palau Reial de
Pedralbes, 400 obres de Salvador Dalí, 1914 a 1983, 1983, no. 134, illustrated in
colour in the catalogue
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, De Picasso à Barceló. Les artistes espagnols,
2003, no. 11, illustrated in colour in the catalogue and on the front cover

LITERATURE
Salvador Dalí, La Conquête de l'irrationnel, Paris, 1935, pl. 2, illustrated
James Thrall Soby, Salvador Dalí. Paintings, Drawings, Prints, New York, 1941,
mentioned p. 15
Salvador Dalí, La Vie secrète de Salvador Dalí, Paris, 1952, illustrated pp. 96-97
Robert Descharnes, Dalí de Gala, Lausanne, 1962, illustrated p. 153
William S. Rubin, Dada and Surrealist Art, New York, 1968, mentioned pp. 220 &226
De Deaeger (ed.), Dalí, Paris, 1968, no. 131, illustrated
Robert Descharnes, Salvador Dalí, New York, 1976, no. 19, illustrated p. 23
Salvador Dali, La vida secreta de Salvador Dalí, Figueras, 1981, pp. 194-195,
illustrated pl. 2
Dawn Ades, Dalí, London, 1982, no. 67, illustrated p. 87
Salvador Dalí, La mia vita segreta, Milan, 1982, p. 198
Ignacio Gómez de Liaño, Dalí, Barcelona, 1982, no. 35, illustrated
Robert Descharnes, Salvador Dalí: l'oeuvre et l'homme, Lausanne, 1984, illustrated in
colour p. 84
Robert Descharnes, Salvador Dalí, London, 1985, no. 19, illustrated p. 21
Meryle Secrest, Salvador Dalí, New York, 1986, mentioned p. 115
Karin v. Maur, Salvador Dalí, Stuttgart, 1989, illustrated p. XXI
Robert Descharnes &Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí. The Paintings, Cologne, 1994, vol. I,
no. 306, illustrated in colour p. 138
Salvador Dalí: The Early Years (exhibition catalogue), Hayward Gallery, London, 1994,
illustrated p. 155
Ian Gibson, The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí, London, 1997, fig. 64, illustrated
Felix Fanés, Salvador Dalí, la construcción de la imagen: 1925-1930, Madrid, 1999,
detail illustrated p. 157
Felix Fanés, El Gran masturbador, Madrid, 2000, detail illustrated p. 10
Grandes maestros de la pintura, Barcelona, 2001, p. 4
Luis Llongueras, Todo Dalí: vida y obra del personaje más genial y espectacular del
siglo XX, Barcelona, 2003, p. LIX
Salvador Dalí, Obra completa. Textos autobiográficos 1, Barcelona, Figueres &Madrid,
2003, detail illustrated
Les Essentiels de l'art Dalí, Amsterdam, 2003, p. 83
Ricard Mas Peinado, Universdalí, Barcelona &Madrid, 2003, p. 132
Laia Rosa Armengol, Dalí, icono y personaje, Madrid, 2003, p. 26
Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Obra completa. Álbum Dalí, Barcelona, Figueres
&Madrid, 2004, p. 63
Silvia Borghesi, Dalí, Milan, 2004, p. 37
Jean-Louis Gaillemin, Dalí the impresario of Surrealism, London, 2004, p. 55
Huellas dalinianas, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2004, detail
illustrated p. 263
Felix Fanés, La Pintura y sus sombras: cuatro estudios sobre Salvador Dalí, Teruel,
2004, p. 89
Rafael Santos Torroella, El Primer Dalí, 1918-1929: catálogo razonado, Institut
Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia 2005, p. 371
Salvador Dalí: La gare de Perpignan - Pop, Op, Yes-yes, Pompier (exhibition
catalogue), Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2006, p. 221
Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Salvador Dalí, Catalogue raisonné of Paintings (1910-
1939), no. 233, www.salvador-dali.org


CATALOGUE NOTE
Painted in 1929, the present work is a masterpiece of Surrealism and arguably one of
the finest Surrealist portraits. Reaching deeply into the psychology of portraiture, it
displays many of the most important elements that were key to Dalí's rich visual
vocabulary. It unites two of the movement's pivotal figures –Salvador Dalí and Paul
Eluard –and reflects the untamed imagination and technical virtuosity of Dalí's first
mature Surrealist paintings. Dalí and the French Surrealist poet Eluard met in 1929,
around the time when the artist was staying in Paris where he assisted Luis Buñuel with
the filming of Un Chien Andalou. During his stay in the capital, Dalí came in contact with
the Surrealists and invited them to visit him in Cadaqués in the summer. Among those
who spent the summer with Dalí were Paul Eluard with his wife Gala and their daughter
Cécile, as well as Buñuel and René Magritte with his wife. This visit would soon prove
to be a major turning point for the young painter, and was to change both his private
and artistic life.
Robert Descharnes wrote: 'Dalí felt flattered that Paul Eluard should have come to see
him. With André Breton and Louis Aragon, Eluard was one of the leading lights of the
Surrealist movement. As for Gala, she was a revelation –the revelation Dalí had been
waiting for, indeed expecting. She was the personification of the woman in his
childhood dreams to whom he had given the mythical name Galuchka' (R. Descharnes,
op. cit., 1994, pp. 148-149). During the summer, Dalí and Gala took long walks along
the cliffs near Cadaqués; Dalí fell madly in love with Gala, who would become his
legendary, life-long companion and muse. At the end of her stay, 'Dalí saw Gala off at
the station in Figueras, where she took a train to Paris. Then he retired to his studio and
resumed his ascetic life, completing the Portrait of Paul Eluard which the writer had
been sitting for' (ibid., p. 153).
Besides these momentous events in Dalí's personal life, this period also brought a level
of artistic recognition and financial success. The dealer Camille Goemans approached
him with the proposition of buying three paintings of Dalí's own choice, as well as
staging an exhibition of his work at his Paris gallery. In November-December of 1929,
Dalí's first exhibition was held at Galerie Goemans, where the present work was
included alongside other masterpieces from this period. Accompanied by a catalogue
prefaced by André Breton, the exhibition was a great success and, as Simon Wilson
pointed out, 'it marked the beginning of his public success and shot him into the front
ranks of the Surrealist group at a difficult moment in the movement's history. Maurice
Nadeau, the group's first historian later wrote "Yet new forces would replace the old
ones. In the evening of this epoch rose the star of Salvador Dalí, whose personality and
activity were to cause the entire movement to take a new step"' (S. Wilson in Salvador
Dalí (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., 1980, p. 15).
Depicted with minutely executed details, the iconography of the present work combines
all the major motifs of Dalí's early –and the most innovative –stage of Surrealism. Whilst
Eluard formally sat for this portrait during his stay on the Spanish coast, the imagery
that surrounds him is a complex web of Freudian symbols reflecting Dalí's own
personal universe. Writing about the present work, Ian Gibson observed: 'It is
impossible to resist the temptation to look for allusions to Gala. Perhaps relevant is the
fact that the locust has lost its arms and legs and that the former are pushing up
through the fingers of the delicate female hand on Eluard's forehead, which presumably
are crushing the dreaded insect along with the moth. Might the suggestion be that Dalí
senses that Gala could help to allay his sexual fears? One notes, also, the two hands
clasping each other, affectionately it would seem, at the bottom of the portrait, linked by
a mane of flowing tresses to the rocks of Cape Creus. Beside them a mop of hair
suggests a maidenhead. An allusion, perhaps, to Dalí's seaside walks with Gala, to
their growing intimacy, to his hopes for sexual potency and liberation' (I. Gibson, op.
cit., p. 227).
Beside the bust of Eluard, who looms large over a desolate landscape and looks
directly at the viewer, is another head, coupled with a grasshopper or praying mantis.
The animal had a highly personal reference for Dalí, who had a youthful fantasy of
being a 'grasshopper child', while the praying mantis was a favourite symbol for the
Surrealists due to their ritual of the male being devoured by the female immediately
after the sexual act. Eluard himself kept a large collection of praying mantises, and Dalí
was able to observe their behaviour.
The sleeping head, which here appears to be metamorphosing into a toothed fish, has
often been interpreted as the portrait of the artist himself. It features as the main
protagonist of Dalí's masterpiece Le Grand masturbateur (fig. 1), as well as in several
other paintings of 1929 (figs. 2 &4), and ultimately in Persistance de la mémoire of 1931
(fig. 5), as part of a complex assemblage with underlying themes of desire and erotic
tension. The head is always depicted with its eyes closed; as Dalí wrote in The Visible
Woman, 'sleeping is a form of dying': the sleeping head, coupled with the praying
mantis, becomes another symbol of the indestructible bond between love and death.
The most explicit appearance of this head as a self-portrait is perhaps in L'Enigme du
désir (fig. 4), where the rest of the amorphic body is filled with the inscriptions 'ma mere'
('my mother'), a direct reference to the Oedipal complex.
The head of a lion, a Freudian symbol of passion and violence, also appears in several
paintings of 1929. Here it is seen in the upper right of the composition, confronted by a
jug in the shape of a woman's face, a common Freudian symbol of woman as a
receptacle. This confrontation of the male and female symbols has been interpreted as
the artist's neurotic apprehension of his relationship with Gala. Furthermore, the image
of a detached arm with fingers is in several places superimposed over the figure of
Eluard. These fragmented body parts can be seen as phallic symbols, alluding to
Freud's castration complex. In the distance behind the apparition of Eluard, minute
figures of a man and a child possibly refer to Dalí's fear of the impending break with his
father. This rich and complex symbolic imagery, along with its technical mastery and its
importance as a document of this pivotal moment in the history of the Surrealist
movement, set this painting apart as a true masterpiece of Modern art.
According to Robert and Nicolas Descharnes, the present work remained in the
personal collection of Salvador and Gala Dalí for many decades. After Gala's death in
1982, the work was given to Gala's and Eluard's daughter, Cécile Eluard.
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