Books About Dali.

The Official Catalog of the Graphic Works of Salvador Dali
by Albert Field.

There was a time when I denounced this book because of its horrible image quality, numerous typos and mistakes, incomplete indexing, and poor organization.  That was then.

Over the years, as my tastes and interests regarding Dali have changed, I have developed an appreciation for this publication.  I now regard this book as an indispensible part of my research and collecting of Salvador Dali prints.

Everything you need to know about an authorized Dali print is in there.  You get the title, publishing date, medium, paper and image size, paper type, publisher, complete tirage, numbering system, pictures of every print, signed/unsigned, and many other details, including plenty of information about unauthorized Dali prints.

If the print is not in this catalog, then it's generally assumed to not be authentic.

I am glad I bought this book years ago, because when I was finally ready to transition my Dali art appreciation into the realm of Dali art collecting, this book was there to safely guide me.

The book is quite rare, and commands a premium wherever it turns up.  The original price on the dust jacket is $285.  At auction, you can expect to pay as much as $200-$250.  Elsewhere in cyberspace, you can pick up a copy for upwards of $300.





The Official Catalog of the Graphic Works of Salvador Dali
Deluxe Limited Edition of 300


This is the rarely seen Deluxe Edition of the Field catalog.  It differs from the Standard Edition above in several ways:

  • The dust jacket carries the same ISBN as the Standard Edition, but a small sticker on the rear inside flap distinguishes the Deluxe Edition ($360 price tag vs. $285 for the Standard Edition);
  • The Deluxe Edition cover is brown (leather?);
  • Most notably, the Deluxe Edition is signed by author Albert Field on the front title page.
My copy was purchased from a seller in Hawaii and has a personal inscription to two people.  

The first is Joseph Kealapua Melillo.  I found a July 26, 2006 obituary of a Joseph A.V. Kealapua Melillo of Honolulu in the Honolulu Star Bulletin:
Joseph A.V. Kealapua Melillo, 58, of Honolulu, a chef and entrepreneur, will be remembered in services 11 a.m. Saturday at Borthwick Mortuary. He died in Kaiser Medical Center. He was born in Summit, N.J. He is survived by companion Patrick Kelly Lagon, brother Fred and sister Barbara.
 The second is Patrick Kelly Lagon, presumably the same man mentioned in the obituary above.

It is not clear whether all Deluxe Editions have a personal inscription, but it is likely that they are all signed by Albert Field.

The Deluxe Edition is the rarest version of this already rare book and is likely worth a bit more than the Standard Edition.  I have never seen another available, and I would estimate the value at more than $400.




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Dali: The Work, The Man
Descharnes, 1997

This is easily the largest Dali book in my collection.  Check out the stats:
  • 14.5" tall;
  • 10.5" wide;
  • 2" thick;
  • 9 pounds;
  • 455 pages;
  • more than 1,110 illustrations,
  • 672 in full-color.
Wow!  You need a big table space just to set this book to flip through it.  Actually, this book really needs its own large table to be properly set up and enjoyed.

The book is organized into 12 chronological time periods of Dali's life.  Primarily, this is a picture book--it is replete with illustrations and photographs on every page.

For the avid Dali fan, this book holds few surprises.  However, it is comprehensive, gigantic, and colorful, making it one of the best Dali books out there.

I've tried to provide some examples of the more unique content of this book.  You will notice that it avails itself of the large-scale format to occasionally present an image in full-page size.

The book is readily available on internet book sites, but the cost is far more than you can expect to pay when the occasional online auction comes up.  The demand is low, so you can expect to pay fewer then $20 at auction, whereas you can pay 2 to 3 times that to buy it outright on the internet.

My advice is to hold out for an auction to snatch this one up cheap.


 







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Salvador Dali Erotic Sketches
(Prestel, 2009).

Of the various skills demonstrated by the maestro, perhaps the most underrepresented is Dali's draftsmanship.

This contemporary book fills in a small portion of that gap which is addressed in few other publications.

The design is that of a personal sketch book, with a red ribbon running throught the front and back covers to tie it closed.  Features 35 sketches, several of which I have not seen before. 

An interesting work included here is the uncensored Hidden Faces frontispiece.

One complaint is the wasted space in the form of pages left blank; clearly there is room for more reproductions.

The book concludes with a short essay about Dali by Norbert Wolf (also translated into German), and a detailed list of works illustrated.

This book is currently available for about $15 delivered.



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Dali: a study of his life and work
New York Graphic Society, 1958.

This book can easily be one of the tallest and widest in your collection (it's 13.75" x 14.5" ).  The title is a bit ambitious, especially considering that at the time this book was printed, Dali still had more than 20 years left to his career.

In its time, this book likely served as an excellent introduction to Dali's early career and rise to international fame.  Though that story has been told in many other places since then, this book still holds some historical value.

The main text, written by A. Reynolds Morse, follows Dali's career through the exhibitions of his work.  In this organizing element, Morse records dates, places, galleries, and the main works on display. 

This information allows one to follow the public career of Dali through the workflow he produced and revealed to the world in stages.  Certainly, this chronology is valuable to any scholars seeking to trace the steps of the great master painter Dali.

A unique element of this book are the 17 tipped-in color plates, which are the exception rather than the rule, in Dali art books (a list of the plates is provided here).  The descriptive captions for the color plates were written by Dali.

Other than the color plates, this book is heavily illustrated with b&w reproductions, comprised mostly of paintings, with a short section of drawings and watercolors at the end of the book.

The book originally had a clear dust jacket with the title printed in red.  It is frequently missing from the book, so look for it if you are buying a copy. 

This book is relatively rare, but not necessarily in demand.  Average prices tend to be a little high for a book of this nature, around $35-$45, but at this price, nobody's buying. 

Personally, I don't think you should pay more than $25 with the dust jacket, but you may not find such a bargain.  Happy hunting!



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homage to DALI
Amiel/Chartwell, 1980

It may not be apparent to the average Dali collector that there are two versions of this book.

One version has an orange colored dust jacket decorated with The Dawn of Don Quixote (1952) over a sand colored hardcover (hereafter "ver. 1"). 

Another version has a blue colored dust jacket decorated with The Madonna of Port Lligat (1950) over a red colored hardcover (hereafter "ver. 2").

The content of each book is identical with one exception: both contain a unique Dali color lithograph. 

Ver. 1 contains a foldout color lithograph of The Battle of Tetouan (1962) between pages 72-73.  The Tetouan lithograph is of horrible quality, suffering from a grainy condition.  What a shame, this could be a fantastic lithograph.



Ver. 2 contains a full-page color lithograph of Gala's Christ (1978) immediately after the front free endpaper.  This Christ lithograph is of incredible quality.  It is so sharp, clear, and colorful that it almost pops off the page.  Bravo!

In my opinion, you might only want this book to harvest the stellar Christ lithograph.  My only complaint is that I would have preferred a different image for such a well-done reproduction.

As to the content of the book in general, it "contains insightful studies witten by ... knowledgeable writers."  Now, this may sound great, but most of these "studies" are filled with such cloying treacly that only a paragraph or two is enough to give you a severe case of diabetes.

Such obsequious pandering is far more than I can take.  I mean, I love Dali, but c'mon!  Reynolds Morse's fawning over Dali seems subtle compared to the essays in this book.

Anyway, the book is stuffed with many great photos and superb color reproductions, many of which are full-page.  You can't go wrong there.

There is a 1984 printing of this book, I am not sure if it has any lithograph, so beware.

Both 1980 versions of this book normally sell for about $20, although many people try to get $60-$100 for Ver. 2.  In my opinion, those people are insane and you should eschew paying that kind of money for this book.  I recently got a copy of Ver. 2 for under $20 in a lot with two other Dali books.


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Dali and His Books
Catalogue by Eduard Fornes, English edition: 1987

This book is like a checklist, albeit incomplete, for the collector of Dali's writings and book illustrations.  In spite of what's missing, it's a good starting point for any Dali collector.  The book is 80 pages and is replete with color illustrations and tons of information.

The book begins with Dali, the writer which presents Dali's written works in chronological order.  I find it odd that Les Diners de Gala is included in this section since there is not a single bit of text in this book authored by Dali.  I would consider Les Diners a book illustrated by (not written by) Dali, so it belongs in the next section.

The next section, Dali, the illustrator presents books and magazines illustrated by Dali in chronological order.  One thing that bothers me about this section is the inclusion of "books" which take the form of limited edition suites.  In reality, the average person can't go out and buy any of these "books" on the secondary market.  I guess the author would have been short on content if these works were not included.

Nevertheless, this section is fairly comprehensive, though it could have included Speak of the Devil (1945) for the incredible dust jacket Dali designed for it.  Also, where is Dali by Dali (1970)???  It is bizarre that at least the latter book was not included in this catalogue.

One last critique: this section of the catalogue would have been enhanced by including complete information on all books cited.  For instance, it would be nice to know exactly how many illustrations there are in a particular book illustrated by Dali.  This information is occasionally provided, but not consistently. 

Weaknesses aside, this book is a fun read, especially for the avid collector of many of these works.  The books section is illustrated with covers of many of the books and some of the illustrations contained therein.  Occasionally, you get a foreign language cover which differs from the English edition.

I only recently became aware of this book, even after years of collecting Dali books.  It seems to be a relatively rare publication.  A copy will likely cost you about $40 and up.



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Dali
by Luis Romero
Spanish-language edition: 1975; English translation: 1979

This is one of the great books written about Salvador Dali. 

It combines both the author's first-hand knowledge of Dali, and the author's analysis of Dali's own writings and the words others have written about Dali.  In doing so, the author paints his own unique picture of Dali's artistic oeuvre while weaving in a good deal of biographical content.

Romero conceived of the book around 1969, while Dali was working on his masterwork, Hallucinogenic Bullfighter.  At that time, it was decided to use said work as the basis, or linking element, for this book.

While Romero's story winds through various Dali works, experiences, and anecdotes, it is the symbolism portrayed in the Bullfighter that Romero connects to the lifelong expressions of Dali.

Any Dali collector seeking a scholarly analysis of the Bullfighter, and Dali symbolism in general, should find this book easy to read and enlightening.  It answers questions it poses, and it poses questions that only now may become answerable. 

Romero concedes that at the time the book was published, it was difficult to provide comprehensive information about an artist's work which spanned the globe, especially in the absense of a complete catalog.  Remember that in 1970, the Morse's Dali ..... A Collection was only just being prepared and printed.
 
In all, Romero does a fantastic job of surveying Dali's most popular works in one text while addressing the images and symbols he saw in a contemporary Dali masterwork as it was being painted.

The book is replete with color and b&w illustrations and photos, illustrated endpapers, and an attractively decorated leatherette cover. 

Of course, there are many detail reproductions of the Hallucinogenic Bullfighter as different elements of the painting are addressed.  I particularly enjoyed some of the photos of Dali at work and at play.  One small photo shows Dali in the act of jumping rope with some children!

There appear to be contemporary reprints of this book, but the first edition is fairly easy to obtain.  A fine quality copy will cost about $25-$30.  I have one extra copy for sale, and your purchase will help support this web site.




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The World of Salvador Dali
by Robert Descharnes
Ver. 1: Crown Publishers, 1962, printed in Italy & bound in Switzerland;
Ver. 2: Viking Press, 1968; Second printing 1972, printed & bound in Switzerland.

Ver. 1.

Ver. 2 edition is in reduced format (slightly smaller) and identical in content to Ver. 1.  Both have an orange hard cover, Ver. 1 has Dali's signature in gold on the lower right of the cover, and Ver. 2 has the title in gold on the center of the cover.  The Ver. 1 dust jacket is a detail of Dali from "The Ecumenical Council," and the Ver. 2 dust jacket is a retouched photograph of a close-up of his eye from the detail on Ver. 1.

As to the content, I notice that Ver. 2 has several more color images than Ver. 1.  Several of the color images are of works by Dali, and a couple are of Dali himself.  With rare exception, every image that is available in color appears as such in Ver. 2, but may be black and white in Ver. 1.

Ver. 2 on Ver. 1.
The rare exceptions in which Ver. 1 has a color image that is reproduced in black and white in Ver. 2 are pictured at the bottom.

Additionally, the color images in Ver. 2 are more crisp and vivid, so notwithstanding the few instances of black and white images differing from Ver. 1, I would prefer Ver. 2 because of the better color reproduction and because of its smaller size.

The reproductions of Dali's works are fairly common by modern standards, but may have been quite fresh back in the early 1960's when the book was first printed.

The discussion of Dali's rise to surrealist master is a story that has been told many times and in many places since then, so although this may have been one of the earliest tellings of the story, if you've heard it before, then you won't find anything new here.

The real gem of this book for me is the inclusion of photos of Dali in and around his home of the landscape surrounding it.  Descharnes draws connections between those surroundings and some of Dali's most popular works.  A couple of these images are pictured here.

Ver. 1 is more difficult to locate than Ver. 2, but you should still be able to buy either book for fewer than $20, and usually much less.

  


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Salvador Dali
by Robert & Nicolas Descharnes (1993).

This is the very first Dali art book I ever purchased, and it still holds a special place in my heart. A pretty straightforward and typical book, it does have a few gems. A large book at over 370 pages, it has a lot to offer.

The first part of the book is a brief history of Dali’s life and career. It features fairly common photos of Dali at school, with his family, Gala, and various friends. The remainder of the book is over 300 pages of high quality color reproductions presented in chronological order. Most are of oil paintings, but there are plenty of watercolors, gouaches, drawings, mixed media art, sculptures, and objects of art.

Comes with a dust jacket that has the same design as the cover of the book. You don’t often see a book whose cover is the same as the dust jacket. Also has a red fabric ribbon attached to the binding–another feature you don’t see in many books.

Since around 1997, when I purchased this book at a used book store, I have not seen it for sale. It appears to be a rare find, though not necessarily in demand. I think I paid about $35 for it.



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In Quest of Dali
by Carlton Lake (1969).

This rare book is a must read for any fan of Salvador Dali. It is an easy book to read and definitely worth it if you are a big fan of Dali (like myself).

Carlton Lake writes about Dali in the late 1960s. During this time, Lake met up with Dali several times, both privately and at various public functions. This book gives you insight into the variety of things and people Dali was involved with at the time, from a first-hand perspective.

There are two brief sections of black and white illustrations which correspond to, and complement, the things Lake references in the text.

The dust jacket features a Halsman image. Expect to pay about $10 for a copy of this book.

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Homage to Dali
Special issue of the XXe Siecle Review
Leon Amiel Publisher (1980).

This book is a collection of essays about Dali. Frankly, I can’t understand the point of any of the essays — they just seem to ramble on-and-on without any thesis in sight.

Other than that, the book is richly illustrated with color and black and white illustrations and photographs. A special feature of this book is a color fold-out lithograph of “The Battle of Tetuan.”

You could probably do without this book in your Dali library. Expect to pay about $15 for a decent copy of this book, and make sure it has the lithograph still attached.



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The Drawings of Dali
Master Draughtsman Series, Borden Publishing Company; introduction by Stephen Longstreet (1964).

This 40+ page softcover publication features full-page reproductions of Dali’s drawings in black and white.

There’s nothing much special about most of these drawings — few rarities or unique works. Nevertheless, it is a nice collection of works that is probably worth the purchase price.

This is a rare book, but not in high demand, so you should be able to find an affordable copy from time-to-time. Expect to pay about $10 for it.

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