Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
The Collection of Drue Heinz
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

Naissance d'une divinité

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
Naissance d'une divinité
signed and dated 'Dalí 1960' (lower right)
oil on panel
13 5/8 x 10 5/8 in. (34.7 x 26.9 cm.)
Painted in 1960
Carstairs Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 16 January 1961.
M. Lenson, "Surrealist" in News, 11 December 1960 (detail illustrated).
E.R. Morse, trans., Dalí by Dalí, New York, 1970, p. 10, no. 13 (detail illustrated in color, p. 11).
J.-A. Gaiarsa, Respiração e imaginação, São Paulo, 1971, pp. 81-82, no. 47 (detail illustrated, p. 81).
L. Romero, Tout Dalí en un visage, Paris, 1975, p. 236, no. 296 (illustrated in color, p. 234; with incorrect medium).
J. Rubio Navarro, "Dalí: El desvelo de la razón produce monstruos" in Tele Radio, 15-21 April 1983, no. 1320, p. 17 (illustrated in color).
S. Dalí, Dalí, Madrid, 1984, p. 92, no. 46 (illustrated in color; with incorrect medium).
I. Gómez de Liaño, Dalí, New York, 1984, no. 119 (illustrated in color; with incorrect medium).
J. Vallès Rovira, Dalí delit Empordà: Eròtic, esotèric, marxista, Figueres, 1987, p. 146 (illustrated in color).
R. Passeron, Dalí, Paris, 1990, p. 100, no. 85 (illustrated in color, p. 101; with incorrect medium).
R. Descharnes and G. Néret, Dalí: The Paintings 1946-1989, Cologne, 1994, vol. II, pp. 532 and 769, no. 1191 (illustrated in color, p. 533).
L. Llongueras, Tot Dalí: Vida i obra del personatge més genial i espectacular del segle XX, Barcelona, 2003, p. 78 (illustrated in color).
New York, Carstairs Gallery, Salvador Dalí, December 1960-January 1961.
New York, Gallery of Modern Art, Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965, December 1965-February 1966, addendum p. 4.
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and Kunsthaus Zürich, Salvador Dalí, 1904-1989, May-November 1989, p. 352, no. 267 (illustrated in color, p. 353).

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

Salvador Dalí depicted on this panel the birth of the ancient Greek deity Aphrodite (“Venus” to the Romans and in most modern-day usage). “Foam-born,” as her name signifies, she rises from the sea; her appearance is that of a bust molded from clear, thin Plexiglas, based on the head of the Vénus de Milo in the Louvre. Watery waves and sea kelp comprise her hair, the color of beach sand fills in her face. “The goddess of desire, riding on a scallop shell, stepped ashore first on the island of Cythera,” Robert Graves wrote. “Grass and flowers sprang from the soil wherever she trod… She takes the air accompanied by doves and sparrows, noted for their lechery; sea food is still regarded as aphrodisiac throughout the Mediterranean” (The Greek Myths, London, 1960, pp. 49-50).
The small, rocky island enveloped within the transparent form of the goddess is perhaps Hytra, which tourists today visit for its large sea caves. The viewer is looking northward toward the mountainous shore of Cythera (Kythira), on the ancient Minoan and Cretan trade route to Peloponnesian Greece. This scene resembles the sea and landscape of the western Mediterranean along the Catalunyan Costa Brava, in the vicinity of Dalí’s home and studio in Port Lligat.
In 1913, not yet ten years old, in a laundry room where he set up his first studio, “I made a copy of the Vénus de Milo in clay,” Dalí recalled in his memoir. “I derived from this, my first attempt at sculpture, an unmistakable and delightful erotic pleasure” (The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, New York, 1993, p. 71). During 1925-1926, the artist painted Vénus et amours and several versions of Vénus et marin (Descharnes and Néret, nos. 212, 221, 222, and 224). He modeled in 1936 the original plaster version of Vénus de Milo aux miroirs; tufts of fur attached to metal knobs open the secret drawers through which, the artist claimed, “it is possible to look inside the body of the Vénus de Milo to the soul” (“Salvador Dalí, a candid conversation” in Playboy, July 1964, p. 44).
Dalí during the early 1930s considered Jean-Antoine Watteau’s rococo L’embarquement pour Cythère, 1717, as a potential subject for his paranoiac-critical method of creating images capable of simultaneous, multiple figuration and interpretation. His apotheosis of the theme was the Dream of Venus pavilion he created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The image of Vénus de Milo is repeated numerous times in Le torero hallucinogène, 1968-1970, a pictorial resumé of numerous subjects that obsessed Dalí throughout his career.

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