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Posts Tagged ‘Salvador Dalí’

21 MARCH, 2014

Salvador Dalí’s Sinister and Sensual Paintings for Dante’s Divine Comedy

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From Heaven to Hell in melting faces and flying bones.

Something magical happens when a prominent artist interprets a literary classic visually, from William Blake’s paintings for Milton’s Paradise Lost to Picasso’s 1934 drawings for a naughty ancient Greek comedy to Matisse’s 1935 etchings for Ulysses. But the celebrated artist most prolific in illustrating literary classics was undoubtedly Salvador Dalí, who illustrated Don Quixote in 1946, the essays of Montaigne in 1947, Alice in Wonderland in 1969, and Romeo and Juliet in 1975.

At the height of his fame in 1957, more than a century after William Blake had done the same, Salvador Dalí began working on a series of 100 paintings based on Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, commissioned by the Italian government. He was given eight years to complete the artwork, which was then to be released as limited-edition prints in 1965 to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth. But when word got out that one of Italy’s greatest literary legacies had been entrusted to a Spaniard, the public outcry led the government to pull out. Dalí, however, forged forward on his own to complete the series in 1964, then enlisted two engravers who spent five years hand-carving 3,500 wooden blocks to be used for reproductions of Dalí’s paintings.

Somewhat surprisingly, the series was never published as an official English edition of the classic book, but reproductions of the individual paintings can still be purchased online — often for outrageous amounts — and found in an obscure out-of-print book released by the Park West Gallery in 1993.

From Sordello drawing a line in the sand of Purgatory to demarcate his freedom after nightfall to the outstretched grasping arms of the Wood of Suicides to the gruesomely melted and stretched skulls of The Blasphemers, Dalí’s surrealist tour of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory blends the sinister and the sensual to a haunting effect.

For a curious counterpoint, see William Blake’s take on the Dante classic.

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14 JANUARY, 2014

Salvador Dalí’s Rare 1975 Illustrations for Romeo & Juliet

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Shakespeare gone surrealist in red silk.

The greatest literary classics tend to attract a plethora of visual art and graphic tributes. But the highest convergence of text and image happens when an influential artist reimagines an influential piece of literature — take, for instance, Picasso’s 1934 drawings for a naughty ancient Greek comedy or Matisse’s 1935 etchings for Ulysses. Among the painters who most readily lent their talents to literary classics was Salvador Dalí, who illustrated Don Quixote in 1946, the essays of Montaigne in 1947, and Alice in Wonderland in 1969. In 1975, the iconic Spanish surrealist illustrated an ultra-limited, presently impossible to find edition of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, published by Rizzoli in a red silk slipcase and featuring 10 lithographs by Dalí. Only 999 copies were published.

Complement with Dalí’s 1967 drawings for the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Images courtesy of Lockport Street Gallery via Richard Melnick

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09 OCTOBER, 2013

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Don Quixote

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The art of fighting surrealist windmills.

Salvador Dalí was no stranger to literary illustration, from his heliogravures for Alice in Wonderland to his drawings for Montaigne’s essays. But arguably his most elegant take on a literary classic comes from this rare 1946 edition of Don Quixote De La Mancha (public library) by Miguel de Cervantes. (Cervantes’s exact birthday remains uncertain — September 29, 1547 is the commonly agreed upon date, but there are no surviving birth records; the only official record is that of his baptism on October 9, 1547.)

Scrumptiously surrealist, Dalí’s drawings — a combination of black-and-white sketches and watercolors — are the best visual take on the Cervantes classic since Spanish graphic design pioneer Roc Riera Rojas’s 1969 illustrations.

Complement with Dalí’s 1967 illustrations of the signs of the zodiac, then revisit Matisse’s etchings for Ulysses.

Thanks, Wendy

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