Small Dali Print May Fetch Big Auction Price
By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dali Historian/Writer
It’s been said that everything old is new again. That maxim seems to help connect the dots when we look this time not at a major Salvador Dali oil painting coming to auction, but instead an etching – and it dates all the way back to the year 1924. Salvador was just out of his teens when he created the etching, titled Tete de jeune fille (Girls’ Head), and printed it himself.
The signed and dated print, whose image size is a diminutive 4 5/8 inches x 3 5/8 inches, has a very important provenance, because it’s from the estate of Paul Eluard. Not only was Eluard an esteemed poet in his time, but of course he was married to Gala – until a wickedly unique Salvador Dali caught the Russian muse’s eye. That not only changed Eluard’s life, and Gala’s, and Dali’s, it also changed the course of Surrealism.
That’s because, no matter how things evolved and changed over the years, there is no question that Kazan, Russia-born Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, 1894 -1982) was the single greatest influence in Salvador Dali’s personal life and remarkable artistic career. He simply would not have been the force he was in the Surrealist movement, were it not for the formidable influence of Gala.
What’s old is new again, in that the Tete de jeune fille etching goes on the auction block at Christie’s in New York City April 17-18 and carries a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 – $50,000 – a pretty tidy sum for a tiny Salvador Dali print.
In connecting the historical dots, we’re reminded that Dali’s 1929 Portrait of Paul Eluard – a stunning surrealist work in itself – has the distinction of being the highest-priced Dali work sold at auction to date, garnering $21.5 million on Feb. 10, 2011. While that may be eclipsed by some of the insane mega-million-dollar sales we’ve been seeing of late for some other artists, it’s still a very healthy chunk of change for a small oil on cardboard.
I always think it’s a shame that important Dali’s like the Eluard portrait are sequestered in some private collector’s home somewhere, rather than being available for the art- and Dali-loving public to enjoy. Hopefully, in time, that will change. Meantime, it’s noteworthy that a very small Salvador Dali print is expected to garner a big price at auction. Stay tuned.
[Images used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes only]