Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Salvador Dali

Spanish artist Slavador Dali would turn 105 today. He was one of the most unique figures in twentieth century art. Almost single handedly bringing forth the surrealist movement. Many compelling images in modern art were realized at his hand from his amazing imagination.

Dali apparently had a vivid dream life, and was able to have strong recall of the images that appeared in his dreams. He translated many of these haunting and sometimes disturbing images to his paintings.

Perhaps Dali's most famous painting is entitled "The Persistence of Memory." Featuring the iconic melting clocks that became so indelibly etched in our collective consciousness, even those who have little interest or knowledge of art in general.

MrMartha recalls vividly his first trip to MOMA in New York, viewing the galleries, and coming upon this tiny framed painting....and realizing that it was, in fact, the original Dali work. It's an amazingly small painting, measuring barely 9" X 13", but the detail is exquisite, with impact far in excess of physical size. MrMartha had always thought the painting must be wall size, if not billboard size, because of the ubiquity of the imagery!

Painted in 1931, the work was influenced apparently by Dali watching Camembert Cheese melting after luncheon on a very warm summer afternoon. That night, Dali had a dream about clocks melting in the same way the cheese did, and the next day, began adding the clock images to a half completed landscape he had already been working on. The painting was sold in Paris to a New York Gallery owner for $250.00. It was donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1934 where it has remained since.

The painting has been used in, or as a takeoff point for, many advertising campaigns over the years, which has it so ingrained in popular culture. The melting clock theme will be featured in a new PS3 ad, and Volkswagen has recently created a version of the painting featuring a melting fuel gauge to signal the economy of its vehicles.

An incredibly prolific artist, Dali produced a huge quantity of work over the course of his career. Late in his life, his images produced as "limited edition" lithographs were touted as 'guaranteed to appreciate' by unscrupulous "gallery mills" and allowed by his corrupt guardians and advisors, resulting in huge production runs which were sold as 'investments' to unsavvy collectors.

The huge glut of Dali was expected to stabilize after his death, but even today most of those Lithographs retain perhaps only 50% to as low as 10% of their original retail value on the secondary market. Learn more about this HERE.

Not good if you got snookered into buying these works back in the 80s at inflated prices....however, if you love Dali's work, and are buying -- not for appreciation of investment, but to have a wonderful and compelling work of art to display and enjoy -- you cant go wrong at the current market prices. Do your homework, and buy carefully. There are many fakes, and many with false signatures added later, so it is very much Buyer Beware.