The Fine Art P.I. and Salvador Dalí

By Reed V. Horth, for ROBIN RILE FINE ART

Most of you know me as someone who goes out and finds art for my clients. This is what I do. Sort of an “Art Private Investigator” (Like Magnum P.I. without the Ferrari or the bushy mustache.) My international clients, culled from years in this business, generally enjoy specific artists, genres and styles which I have distinguished myself in over the years, including Salvador Dalí, Richard MacDonald, Auguste Rodin and Frederick Hart. Notice anything about these names?….. All did sculpture.

Yup, that’s right. I have distinguished myself in the most obscure form of art imaginable. Well, that might be an overstatement, but if you ask the random person on the street about art, 9 times out of 10 they will name a painter.

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) Venus de Milo with Drawers (1964) Bronze edition of 12

Sure, Dalí (1904-1989) was better known for his painted works. But, he also had a prodigious output of remarkable sculpture throughout his career, including the seminal “Vénus de Milo with Drawers” (Above- 1964), “Rhinocéros habillé en dentelles” (1956) “Space Venus” (1977), “Nude Ascending the Staircase: Homage to Marcel Duchamps” (1973), “Sublime Moment” (Below- 1972)and an extensive collaboration with Daum Glassworks of Nancy, France (1968-1988), among others. His sculptures tend to cover the same broad gamut of subject-matter depicted in his painted works. The subject of the Venus de Milo was an oft-used subject as it allowed him to examine the duality of elements, old and new, masculine and feminine, hard and soft. As was his craft, his sculptural works often take disparate elements and juxtapose them in deliberately absurd combinations. Similarly to the way that Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) tended to complete his works on multiple scales in order to broaden his audience, so did Dalí. Most works are completed on a “collector-scale”, a “prestige-scale” and a “museum-scale”, although certain compositions were done either smaller or larger based on Dalí’s needs for the composition. Obviously, the larger the scale, the rarer the edition.

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) The Sublime Moment (1972) Polychrome Bronze edition of 12

Dalí‘s sculptures were meticulously researched and catalogued by Dalí’s friend and confidant Robert Descharnes and his son, Nicolas Descharnes, in a catalogue raisonne entitled “Le Dur et le Mou” (The Hard and the Soft). Several years ago, I had the pleasure to meet both Robert & Nicolas Descharnes during a rare visit to the United States. We were able to discuss the recent catalogue in the context of the collection I was working on at the time, as well as reminisce about Robert’s experiences with Dalí through the final years of his life. It was indeed a rare honor which I have come to value as much for the experience of getting a few inches closer to the legacy of Dalí, but also for the stories which illuminated my own picture of Dalí as a man and thinker.

The author with Robert Descharnes, 2007

Mr. Descharnes was kind enough to share stories with me of Dalí working on his famed collection for publisher Isidro Clot (now commonly known as the Clot Collection). During the summers of the early 1970’s Dalí was living in Port Lligat, Spain. Descharnes was his personal secretary. As Dalí was a disciplined man, he would work during the early day on paintings. In the afternoon he would sit in or near the pool, often nude, and model wax figures freehand. These stream-of-consciousness creations became what are now known as the Clot Collection. Visceral and abstracted, they show Dalí’s emotions at their most thread-bare. They are stripped on pretense and adornment and distill the joy of their subjects in a way only Dalí could. The seminal “Terpsichore: Muse of the Dance” (1971) exemplifies this ethos. Headless, her body moves in a flitting dance that is both effortless and weightless. It is as if she was clumsily being lifted by the wind only to be set down gently on an unseen ballet slipper. The Palacio Euskalduna de la Musica de Congresos in Bilbao, Spain has one of only 2 examples of this work on the 5.3 meter scale. (See below)

One of only 2 examples of "Terpsichore: Muse of the Dance" (5.3 Meters) Permanent placement at Palacio Euskalduna de la Musica de Congresos in Bilbao, Spain

In the past decade I have been privileged to work on projects involving some of the world’s most important museums, and public and private collections in the U.S., as well as Mexico, Greece, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada and a host of other locales. In the process, I have been able to cull a knowledge base and resources to locate extremely difficult works for clients internationally.

As a Fine Art P.I., perhaps it is apropos that I would chose a little-known subject from a well known artist, as this seems to be my modus operandi. Now… about that Ferrari.