Salvador Dalí. Photograph by Philippe Halsman.
NEW YORK - Ingenious artist, grandiose eccentric and irrepressible bon vivant, Salvador Dalí was nothing if not a complex and colorful character whose paintings, sculptures, films, drawings, jewelry and writings have come to epitomize the essential spirit of the Surrealist movement. Forthcoming at auction are five unusual objects by Dalí, all of which reveal lesser-known facets of his output.
For Dalí, beauty wasn’t only to be experienced in the spaces of art but was to be made real. The Eye of Time is a platinum brooch originally intended as a gift for the artist’s wife and muse, Gala. Designed in the shape of an eye with a Movado watch for its pupil and a single tear dropping from its corner, the piece is set with 38 diamonds and a single ruby. The opulent brooch is as witty as it is luxurious.
Property from a Private Collection. The Eye of Time, circa 1949–51. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
Given the artist’s reputation for phantasmagoric images, it may come as no surprise to learn that in 1958, he was commissioned by Wallace Laboratories to design an artwork to promote their psychotropic drug Miltown. A sedative that was popular in Hollywood circles, Miltown was at the time considered to be a miracle cure for anxiety. The resulting project, Crisalida, was an art installation Dalí built in the shape of a chrysalis. Visitors walked through it to see glass panels illustrating a user’s three stages of healing: from an ominous, hollowed figure, to a feminine form in mid-metamorphosis, and finally, to a healed, whole woman with a head of blooming flowers.
Property of the Fralin Museum Of Art, University Of Virginia, Sold To Benefit Future Acquisitions. Crisalida (femme à la tête de fleurs, le bras gauche levé), 1958. Estimate $70,000–100,000.
Also giving visual form to the unseen dimensions of the mind is the artist’s design for a hologram clock. Conceived by Dalí in a drawing from 1975 (when the technology did not exist to make the hologram), the clock echoes one of his most important paintings, The Persistence of Memory (1931), in which three timepieces melt in an arid landscape. With its wry humor about the unrealities of time and the illusory nature of perception, the hologram clock (fabricated in 2003 and to be sold with the drawing as a single lot) stands alongside The Eye of Time and the Crisalida panels as proof that Dalí’s singular visions have retained their prescience and potency decades later.
Property from the Collection of Selwyn Lissack. Salvador Dalí & In Collaboration With Salvador Dalí. (left) Montre molle, projet pour un hologramme, 1975 & (right ) melting clock hologram, 2003. Estimate $100,000–150,000.