Article by Roxana Florina Popa
Rose and Butterflies in the Snow
©Salvador Dalí Courtesy of Artcurial
«The hope of hibernation and antigravitation of the iminent future opens before the world »
Dalí ‘s earlier works return this spring to the forefront of the art scene. A set of 15 original Salvador Dalí gouaches will be dispersed by Artcurial during their Impressionist and Modern Art Auction on 4 June 2019 in Paris. The Spanish pharmaceutical laboratory Hoechst Ibérica commissioned these illustrations to the artist annually, between 1959 and 1976, and used them as company greeting cards. For 20 years, they were exhibited at the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in Figueras, the artist’s hometown.
Bruno Jaubert, Director Impressionist & Modern Art, Artcurial reveals that « Dalí accepted very few commissions with the exception of high-society portaits, cinema sets and book illustrations. This gouache series reveal themes of the artist’s reflection on metamorphosis and regeneration. Beyond their visual strength, these drawings are a tour-de-force between marketing and artistic creation in an inventive and provocative freedom that defines great masters».
«The flame of the ideal that emanates from the printed circuits will transform in a near future the chaotic tree of the original sin into the tree of the Christmas purification»
Salvador Dalí 1972
Metamorphosis is a subject that Dali held close to his heart and can be found in several of his gouaches: he painted The Metamorphosis of Narcisse in 1937. In Daphne (1965), Dali reinterprets Ovid’s myth. He represents the Nymph’s transformation into a laurel tree that Apollo appropriates for himself (estimate Euro 70,000 – 100,000). Don Quijote`s (1960) metamorphosis into a Christmas tree (estimate Euro 60,000 – 90,000). The metamorphosis linked to the unconscious is also explored in the project Mermaid on the Beach (estimate Euro 30,000 – 40,000) through a theme strongly steeped into the imaginary.
Another theme dear to the artist and developed on the greeting cards is the Chrysalis. Butterflies are present in this set, symbolising the passage of the chrysalis into an insect with spread wings. The butterflies become a guide in Sugar Figures (estimate Euro 50,000 – 70,000): the path that it traces defines the positioning of the figurines as tree branches representing choices.
«In the presence of the melancholic angel of winter, the pink rose blooms and its metamorphosed leaves protect the psyche’s butterfly»
Rose and Butterflies in the Snow –Salvador Dalí 1967
Salvador Dalí works also on the theme of vital organ regeneration from nature in the projects Visage (1975), Shell (1976) and Coral (1966) (estimate Euro 20,000 – 60,000).
Interview with Miriam Krohne, Director Artcurial Germany
Miriam Krohne – Director Artcurial Germany ©Artcurial
Roxana Florina Popa: In the spirit of Salvador Dalí’s interview given to Mike Wallace in 1958, when the artist told the American reporter before he went on the air: “Ask embarrassing questions! Ask embarrassing questions! “, I would like to know:
What do Dalí and Surrealism have to do with healing and therapy? and
Why would the Spanish pharma lab, such as Hoechst Iberica, commission Dali for creating its postcards – Dalí being one who eccentrically drove in a car full to the roof of cauliflower, Dalí – a painter, but also a self-proclaimed clown, fool and showman, Dalí – who lectured with his head enclosed in a diving helmet in order to penetrate the depth of the subconscious seas of mind?
Miriam Krohne: The artists of surrealism – André Breton was the first one – profoundly studied psychoanalysis, starting with Sigmund Freud. It was supposed to bring the unconscious to the fore, liberate the imagination through intoxication and dream, and ultimately realize it artistically. Of particular interest to Dalí was, for example, paranoia, a phenomenon that can be found again and again as a source of inspiration and artistic exploration in his work through his nonconformity. Finally, dream interpretation, hypnosis and psychoanalysis, analysis and therapy are inseparable from surrealism. It is certainly to be noted that the surrealists found psychoanalysis less interesting than a curative therapy. They rather intended to draw on its power to summon up possibilities from the subconscious and create out of the peoples’ repressions.
Dalí was at the time the most famous artist in Spain. It may, therefore, seem obvious that a group like Hoechst Iberica wanted to use and, perhaps, even support this reputation.
«Of the snail, magical toy, the angel that caresses the Christmas tree of all children’s dreams arises»
Salvador Dalí 1976
© Salvador Dalí Courtesy of Artcurial
«The life that arises splendidly from the sea blooms in a coral tree in whose branches all the men of good will nest with a blue background of shining stars»
Salvador Dalí 1966
Roxana Florina Popa: How good and high have Dalí ‘s paintings been sold over the years? What has sold best?
Miriam Krohne: Works by Dalí, whether originals or graphics, are traded very regularly and well on the auction market.
Dalí’s most expensive artwork at auction was sold in London in 2011 for £ 13,481,250, including premium. It was the portrait of Paul Éluard, surrealist poet and Salvador Dalí ‘s friend.
In this position, I would like to emphasize that such an almost complete series of works of the artist is an absolute rarity, actually a sensation on the art market! Estimates are also relatively modest and range from Euro 20 000 to Euro 30 000, ranging from Euro 70 000 to Euro 100 000.
Roxana Florina Popa: What is the artistic value of Dalí ‘s postcards for Hoechst Iberica?
Miriam Krohne: In the years 1959 to 1976, a total of 18 Christmas cards were created for the same customer. This in itself is a special fact, as the artist has done very few commissioned work and also over such a long period of time. These are high-quality watercolors, each accompanied by an autograph by the artist. For Dalí important topics such as metamorphosis, nature and medicine, in particular healing, are the main features of the series. The works give a picture year on year and an insight into Dalí’s aesthetic and artistic development, as well as his engagement with current events. Thus, Dalí renders the first heart transplantation in 1967 in his watercolor from 1968, by piercing the middle of a heart through an arrow, while Asklepios is aside.
«The roots of the Christmas tree emerge from the stars while its sharp tip is transplanted into the heart of the earth»
Salvador Dalí 1968
The 15 watercolors that Artcurial will be auctioning on 4 June 2019 in Paris are absolutely singular and artistically highly interesting, and thus valuable, because of their quality, their complexity, their history and ultimately their provenance.
Roxana Florina Popa: How and where do collectors look for information about buying Dalí ‘s paintings and works?
Miriam Krohne: Collectors and interested parties either enquire about the offer of the auction houses and galleries or receive directly the corresponding information.
Catalogs, whether in print or online versions, as well as various specialized search engines on the Internet are, of course, the most important information platforms.
Thus, a Dalí collector should now hardly escape an important work of the artist, as long as she sees the light of public sale.
Special thanks go to
Mrs Miriam Krohne, Director Artcurial Germany, and Simone Nickl PR