Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the … Read more
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

Montre molle biomorphique

Details
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
Montre molle biomorphique
encre de Chine et graphite sur papier
12.5 x 16 cm.
Exécuté vers 1930-33

India ink and pencil on paper
4 7/8 x 6 ¼ in.
Executed circa 1930-33
Provenance
Julien Levy, New York; vente, Sotheby's, New York, 4 et 5 novembre 1981, lot 30.
Vente, Sotheby's, New York, 10 mai 1989, lot 178.
Acquis au cours de cette vente par le propriétaire actuel.
Literature
J. Levy, Surrealism, New York, 1936 (illustré, pl. 184).
Exhibited
New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings by Salvador Dalí, novembre-décembre 1933 (illustré).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer also agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Natacha Muller
Natacha Muller

Lot Essay

L' exécution du présent dessin est contemporaine de celle de La persistance de la mémoire (fig. 1), l’un des plus célèbres tableaux de Salvador Dalí, et reprend son élément le plus emblématique, la montre molle. L’apparition impromptue des montres molles dans son oeuvre est racontée par le peintre catalan en ces termes : «Le jour où je décidai de peindre des montres, je les peignis molles. Cela se passa un soir de fatigue […] Nous avions terminé notre diner avec un excellent camembert et, lorsque je fus seul, je restai un moment accoudé à la table, reféchissant aux problèmes posés par le ‘super-mou’ de ce fromage coulant. Je me levai et me rendis dans mon atelier pour donner, selon mon habitude, un dernier coup d’oeil à mon travail. Le tableau que j’étais en train de peindre représentait un paysage des environs de Port Lligat dont les rochers semblaient éclairés par une lumière transparente de fin du jour. Au premier plan, j’avais esquissé un olivier coupé et sans feuille. Ce paysage devait servir de toile de fond à quelque idée, mais laquelle ? Il me fallait une image surprenante et je ne la trouvais pas. J’allais éteindre la lumière et sortir, lorsque je ‘vis’ littéralement la solution : deux montres molles dont l’une pendrait lamentablement à la branche d’olivier. Malgré ma migraine, je préparai ma palette et me mis à l’oeuvre. Deux heures après, Gala revint du cinéma, le tableau qui devrait être l’un de mes plus célèbres, était achevé» (cité in R. Descharnes et G. Néret, Salvador Dalí, l’oeuvre peint, Cologne, 1994, p. 173-174). Dans la présente oeuvre, la montre apparaît comme dans le tableau sur le côté gauche, reposant sur l’arrête d’une forme angulaire. Elle s’incrit dans un paysage surréaliste en abyme, évoquant les vertèbres d’une colonne monumentale. Le caractère hypnotique de la perspective est renforcé par les ombres fortes rendues aux moyens de hachures extrêmement fines, qui animent la surface comme dans un fourmillement parfaitement maîtrisé. Cette oeuvre, véritable bijou surréaliste, appartint, comme le tableau aujourd’hui au Museum of Modern Art de New York, au célèbre marchand Julien Levy, qui fit connaitre Dalí aux États-Unis et fit ainsi s’envoler sa carrière.

The present drawing was executed at the same time as The persistence of memory (fig. 1), one of Salvador Dalí's most celebrated works, and features one of its most emblematic elements, the melted clock. The unexpected appearance of the melted clocks in his work was explained by the Catalan artist in the following terms : “The day I decided to paint clocks, I painted them soft. It was on an evening when I felt tired, and had a slight head-ache, which is extremely rare with me. […] We had topped of our meal with a very strong Camembert, and after everyone had gone I remained for a long time seated at the table meditating on the philosophic problem of the ‘super-soft’ which the cheese presented in my mind. I got up and went into my studio, where I lit the light in order to cast a fnal glance, as is my habit, at the picture I was in the midst of painting. This picture represented a landscape near Port Lligat, whose rocks where lit by a transparent and melancholy twilight; in the foreground an olive tree with its branches cut, and without leaves. I knew that the atmosphere which I had succeeded in creating with this landscape was to serve as a setting for some idea, for some surprising image, but I did not in the least know what it was going to be. I was about to turn out the light, when instantaneously I ‘saw’ the solution. I saw two soft watches, one of them hanging lamentably on the branch of the olive tree. In spite of the fact that my head-ache had increased to the point of becoming very painful, I avidly prepared my palette and set to work. When Gala returned from the theatre two hours later the picture, which was to be on of my most famous, was completed (quoted in R. Descharnes and G. Néret, Salvador Dalí, l’oeuvre peint, Koln, 1994, pp. 173-174). As in the painting, the watch appears in the present work on the left hand side, resting on the edge of an angular structure. It sits overlooking a surrealist landscape dominated by shapes recalling a monumental spine. The captivating nature of the perspective is strengthened by the strong shadows made up of extremely fne and carefully controlled hatching which swarms across the surface. This work, a true surrealist gem, was once in the collection of the celebrated dealer Julien Levy, also the erstwhile owner of the painting now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and who had met Dalí in the United States and helped to introduce him to important future collectors.

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