Two Virtually Unknown Dali Paintings Rediscovered, Headed for Auction
By Paul Chimera
Salvador Dali Historian
When it comes to Salvador Dali, the hits just keep on coming! The latest? It was just revealed that two dandy Dali’s, in private hands for more than seven decades, will be heading for the auction block Feb. 28 at Sotheby’s in London.
According to news reports, the two oil paintings were commissioned by and sold to the Argentinian Countess de Cuevas de Vera. Nicknamed Tota, she divided her time between Buenos Aires and France, and seriously schmoozed several important artists of the day, including Salvador Dali.
The rediscovered Dali works made international headlines recently, which comes as no surprise, since virtually unknown Dali originals suddenly coming to light is always major worldwide news.
Of the two canvases, the decidedly strangest one is “Maison Pour Erotomane” (“House for Erotomania”). It’s no doubt unfamiliar to you, unless you have a very keen eye, because it was in fact reproduced in the big Dali – The Paintings book by Robert Descharnes and Giles Neret, described as “Untitled,” whereabouts unknown.
However, it’s easy to miss the work altogether in that book – the unofficial catalog raisone of Dali paintings – tucked away as it is at the bottom of page 230 and dismally reproduced in murky black & white.
But now things have changed.
The vivid color version of the unusual painting literally puts it in a whole new light. It allows us to take a close look at this essentially lost work, and to contemplate just how bizarre it is! Yet it’s really a quintessential example of pure surrealism, where dream images – invariably strange and inexplicable in nature – enjoy free reign.
The painting hasn’t been seen in public since the early1930s.
It appears that Dali melded a nod to the dramatic undulations of Art Noveau architecture with unabashed dream imagery, what with the unlikely juxtapositions seen in this odd composition. Indistinct, rock-like forms (some suggest it may be a weirdly rendered rearing horse) morph into a car, a cello, a violin, a smaller horse. Elongated, phallic spoons penetrate spaces, while tiny human figures appear inside a large cavity that could be viewed as vaginal. The embracing couple in the foreground is presumed to be Dali and his wife Gala.
The hallucinatory tableau bears an unmistakable resemblance to “Surreralist Architecture,” also of 1932. And, in the upper portion, it recalls elements from “Birth of Liquid Desires,” yet another work painted the same year.
It will be fascinating to see how “Maison Pour Erotomane” fares at the upcoming auction, along with the other electrifyingly colorful gem, “Gradiva” – yes, this, too, from 1932. “Gradiva,” also tiny at 8-18″ x 6-1/8″, and painted on copper, carries the same auction estimate as “Maison…”
“Maison Pour Erotomane,” only 5-1/2” x 7-1/8,” carries a pre-auction estimate of about $1.7 million – $2.5 million.