Robert Descharnes (1926-2014) and Salvador Dalí were first introduced by the painter Georges Mathieu whilst travelling on the ocean liner S.S. America in 1950. They collaborated on a wide range of photographic and cinematic projects during the decades that followed, and they remained tightly bound by a friendship that would span over forty years. Among the most colourful anecdotes of their friendship was the time when Descharnes rescued Dalí from a fire at the artist’s Pubol château in 1984, an event which only strengthened their bond.
Sotheby’s is honoured to be presenting selected works from the Private Collection of the late Robert Descharnes. The following lots represent an idiosyncratic synthesis of various different media, and are testament to the spirit of artistic experimentation that defined the pair’s alliance. Spanning many different periods, from a 1934 Cadavre exquis, to collages evoking his cherished Cadaqués, and works featuring the most iconic Surrealist imagery, this offering of works exemplifies the artist’s distinctive language of fantasy, humour, and re-interpretation. After Dalí’s death, Descharnes would become the world-recognised authority on his oeuvre, playing an instrumental role in defending his friend’s legacy and publishing key literature, such as Dalí, l’oeuvre et l’homme (1984) and Dalí, l’oeuvre peint (1993), still considered the definitive reference works on the artist to this day.