SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
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SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)

Illustration pour l'article de Salvador Dalí "The American City Night-and-Day by Dalí"

SALVADOR DALÍ (1904-1989)
Illustration pour l'article de Salvador Dalí "The American City Night-and-Day by Dalí"
signed and dated 'Salvador Dalí 1935' (lower center)
black Conté crayon and pencil on card
11 3⁄4 x 17 3⁄8 in. (30 x 44 cm.)
Drawn in 1935
(probably) Acquired through William and Noma Copley by the late owners, circa 1965.
S. Dalí, "The American City Night-and-Day," The American Weekly, 31 March 1935 (illustrated).
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sweet Dreams and Nightmares: Dada and Surrealism from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, March-May 2000, no. 3 (illustrated; titled The Bicyclists).
New York, Pace/MacGill Gallery, The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, April-May 2009 (illustrated in color).
Post lot text
Nicolas and Olivier Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Drawn in 1935 for the 31 March issue of The American Weekly, the present work, commissioned by William Randolph Hearst, reflects an important partnership with the publisher which cemented Salvador Dalí’s reputation as a celebrity in the United States. Dalí was introduced to Hearst during his first visit to the United States in November 1934. This visit corresponded with his second exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery, which proved a resounding success both from a commercial and critical perspective. Reflecting on his first time in America, Dalí later wrote, “New York, you are an Egypt! But an Egypt turned inside out. For she erected pyramids of slavery to death, and you erect pyramids of democracy with the vertical organ-pipes of your skyscrapers all meeting at the point of infinity of liberty!” (The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, New York, 1942, pp. 331-332).

For this issue of The American Weekly, Dalí entitled his article “The American City Day-and-Night,” stitching together narratives of his early encounters in Manhattan. He captioned the right side of this drawing: Belated loiterers of the city and their suppressed desires retiring into a dream hand. The left side was captioned: The phantoms that haunt Wall Street on Sunday afternoon, embodying the anguish of the locality. In the background of the left vignette, Dalí depicts cyclists biking aimlessly, bearing pebbles and a baguette on their heads, absorbed in a directionless task, a motif initially explored in the 1929 painting, Les plaisirs illuminés (Descharnes, no. 326; The Museum of Modern Art, New York). Away from the crowd, a lone figure with an inkwell balanced on his head cycles blindly. An erect form bulges from his hung head, alluding to the unconscious mind’s attempt to free itself, perhaps in the direct wake of Dalí’s triumphant Surrealist campaign.

Upon Dalí’s departure from New York in January 1935, the first Surrealist Ball was organized in his honor, with each guest attempting to ‘out-Dalí’ the next through elaborate costumes. The event was so outrageous that even Dalí, “fairly inured to eccentricity, was surprised…at the frenzy of imagination” (ibid., p. 337). In the artist’s view, he had succeeded in communicating his personal manifesto to the elites of New York and, on his exit, brazenly proclaimed: “I am surrealism!” (Diary of a Genius, London, 1963, p. 32).

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