Monday, January 31, 2011

Dali's portrait of Elsa Maxwell (1954).

Dali's portrait of Elsa Maxwell (1954).

In 1954, Elsa Maxwell published a book titled RSVP: Elsa Maxwell's Own Story.

The one thing that escapes most people about this book is the frontispiece done by Dali, which is a portrait drawing of Maxwell.

The portrait is not very flattering, especiall for the inclusion in one's first book.  Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a picture is worth a thousand words, so judge for yourself.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dali Museum - Commemorative Guide to Morse Collection (1982)

Salvador Dali Museum
St. Petersburg, Florida
Commemorative Guide to Morse Collection (1982)

This guide contains content identical to the "short catalog," with just a few exceptions, and small amount of additional content (all of which are pictured below).

The additional content is found at the first two pages and at the final page of the guide.  The first two pages are a brief synopsis of Dali's life from birth to death, and contain a rarely seen wedding portrait of Salvador and Gala Dali (1958).  The final page of the guide is a brief statement about the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, and features a picture of the (now former) museum building.

As far as the content common with the "short catalog," this guide has two reproductions in color that are reproduced in black and white in the "short catalog."  One of these is a full-page color reproduction of Nieuw Amsterdam (1974, oil painting on bronze bust).

So, it would seem that of the two versions of this guide, this 1982 printing is superior because of its extra three pages of content and its two color reproductions in place of black and white.

This guide is a diminutive 8.25" sq. in size, and an unpaginated 25 pages in length.

It is replete with photos and reproductions on every page, and notably, the color reproductions are stunning in their excellent print quality and color reproduction.

The text is a synopsis of the Morse family's initial interest in Dali's art and how it blossomed into a friendship with Dali, and ultimately into one of the largest private collections of Dali's art in the world.  The story ends with a synopsis of how the St. Petersburg Dali museum came to be.
Of interest is a nice color reproduction of The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft, which can be used as a table (1934) in actual size.

All-in-all, a neat little book.  I received this copy tucked inside of A Portfolio of Works from the Salvador Dali Museum that I purchased online.  What a great little treasure!

If I didn't already own this publication, I would probably not seek it out unless I could buy it for fewer than $10 delivered.  Average online prices for this book are around $14 delivered.

Or, just look to pick it up along with a book or museum portfolio purchase like I did.

Note: for additional pictures, see my review of the "short catalog."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dali's Alice in Wonderland Poster: The Queen's Croquet Ground (1969).

Alice in Wonderland Poster:
The Queen's Croquet Ground (1969)
from original intaglio suite by Salvador Dali.

OK, so here's the deal: I got this poster of The Queen's Croquet Ground but I don't know anything about it. 

I do know that it's not one of the original limited edition signed/numbered prints from the Alice in Wonderland suite.  However, the poster appears vintage, and appears to be an offset lithograph print.

The Field catalog states that there are "posters" of this image (page 36), and it is my suspicion/hope that my poster is the kind referenced in the catalog.  Since no other information is provided in the catalog about the "posters," it is difficult to authenticate by myself.

As you can see, my poster lacks the black ink splotch across the queen card as seen in the original intaglio print.  Not sure if this means that my poster is a fake image.

For reference, the actual image size is about 13 1/4" by 17 1/8" and the paper size is about 14 3/16" by 18 1/4".  It fits perfectly in a 16" by 20" frame with 2" matting on all sides.

I have never seen another one of these for sale.  I hope that I will come across more answers about this poster in the near future.  Check back, because if additional information turns up, I will update this post.

The value of this Dali offset lithograph poster is difficult to determine at this point.  If it is an authentic Dali poster as identified in the Field catalog, I think it could easily be worth $100-$150.

If the poster is not authentic, it's worth about $5-$10.


Update 1/28/11:  I made a trip to the craft store today and put together this rig for my lithograph, including frame, acid-free backing, and matting, all for under $13.  It hangs in my bedroom.  Dig it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dali and His Books (Eduard Fornes, English edition: 1987).

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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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

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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Les Diners de Gala (Draeger, 1973)

Les Diners de Gala
(Draeger, 1973)

Although typically attributed to Dali, the book does not actually state that Dali "authored" the book.  None of the recipes or the text is attributed to Dali, and Dali is referred to in the third person throughout the book.  However, it is very clear that the illustrations for this book are mainly by Dali.  There are some illustrations not by Dali, and certainly the photos of the recipe dishes were not photographed by Dali.

Nevertheless, this book is a nice prize for any Dali collection.  It is a work of art from cover to cover. 

The reflective gold dust jacket grabs one's attention immediately.  Inside, one finds the book replete with illustrations both unique to this book and recycled from past Dali works.
Concerning the recycled Dali illustrations, the majority come from Les Chants de Maldoror (1934) and Gargantua and Pantagruel (1973).  I especially like the latter because they are bizarre, fantastical, and rarely seen elsewhere.

The works specifically created for this book are also quite bizarre and fantastical in their own right, but with the focus specifically on cooking and food.  Certainly a unique set of illustrations--very colorful, very strange.

I don't know what else to say about this book except that it is a psychedelic art and food adventure.  Flip through it an you might agree.

The book is fairly common, so one can almost always find one for sale online.  However, the book is in relatively high demand, so a nice copy complete with dust jacket can easily sell for $100-$150 and more.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Open Letter to Salvador Dali by Salvador Dali (Heineman, 1967)

Open Letter to Salvador Dali
by Salvador Dali
A Heineman Paperback, 1967

The complete obscurity of this little paperback book means that it is probably not on the radar of most Dali collectors. 

I think the reason for said obscurity is simple: someone rounded up all of the copies and recycled the paper to make something better.  Simply put, this book is a waste of paper and supergelatinous (and any number of Dalinian adjectives) space.

The book is a series of letters apparently penned by Dali to himself.  The danger with anything written by Dali is that you may wind up with a bunch of nonsense.  Clearly the person(s) who bankrolled this project had no editorial control and received such a dearth of useable material that what was printed is pure crap.

I am sure I recognized at least one essay originally printed in The Minotaur.  I think that was done in a few spots just to fill up space.

The bottom line on Dali's so-called letters to himself is that the topics are completely disconnected, and so objectively incomprehensible, that one just doesn't learn anything of substance about Dali from them. 

You can buy this book for fewer than $20.  However, total crap, don't bother.

New Aquisition: Macbeth illustrated by Salvador Dali (Doubleday, 1946).

Macbeth (Doubleday, 1946)
illustrated by Salvador Dali

To the Dali collector, this book pretty much speaks for itself.  It ranks up there among the most rare of the books illustrated by Dali.

The book comes in a slipcase with an illustration pasted on the front.  The book itself has this great repeating pattern which is apparently the letters of Dali's name layered on top of each other.

Inside, you find 12 b&w illustrations, most of which are incredibly crisp and vibrant.  As with other Dali illustrated books, you won't find all of these illustrations in the same place anywhere else.
My copy came in a chipped slipcase in decent condition, but the book inside is immaculate.  In fact, it has never been cracked open to read, leaving the binding tight. 

A severely worn copy of this book can easily fetch about $75 in online auctions, and a fine copy sells for around $150 and up.  This one is rare, but be patient, it turns up from time-to-time.