The Alchemy of The Philosophers

10 lithographs from original gouaches + original engravings on Parchment
Each hand signed by Dali.
22" W x 30" H

The Angel of Alchemy
The Philosopher's Crucible
The Emerald Table
The King and Queen
The Ouraboros
The Labyrinth
The Phoenix
The Tree of Life
The Yin and the Yang

In 1975 Salvador Dalí focused his attention on completing a series of prints that would eventually become one of his most cherished works. These prints would be linked together through a common theme, the philosophy of Alchemy. To complete such a task Dalí concentrated all his ambitions and talents toward its creation. The result would be a suite unlike any other Dalí had previously made. The Alchemy of The Philosophers melded together Dalí’s obsessive interest in the field of Alchemy with his magnificent surreal creativity. The ten prints that composed the suite are all marvelous examples of this surrealist’s unforgettable vision.

Alchemy mixed together; medicine, astrology, spirituality, mysticism, physics, and, chemistry to create a philosophy that aimed at unraveling the mysteries of the world. Its history spans over 2,500 years and can be traced to many different cultures and societies. It also provided the ground work for most of our modern sciences. From the 13th to the 18th century, Alchemy enjoyed a sophisticated label. Many Alchemists at that time were considered serious scientific pioneers, and their goals of finding an elixir for immortality, and transmuting metals into gold were thought of as attainable and noble. But, as the natural sciences advanced, at end of the 19th century, interest in alchemy declined and more and more people began to classify it as pseudo-science.

By the 20th century Alchemy was only of interest to small groups of people studying the history of science and philosophy who saw it as something nostalgic and semi-fascinating. Interestingly enough Alchemy would also draw the attention of a completely different group of people who would see it in new light.

The modernist art movements of the 20th century proved to be the new intellect of a world entering an era of technological advancements and scientific achievements. Influenced by new discoveries in science from Freud to Einstein, these groups of artists and writers saw Alchemy as something that was not too far removed from their own goals. Dalí was one of these artists who saw all to clear the truth and realism that was contained within alchemy. Throughout his career Dalí would make heavy use of themes concerning Alchemy. He saw these ideas as metaphors and insights into reality. Dalí felt that the ancient knowledge of Alchemy was extremely relevant to his contemporary world. He felt that Alchemy was much like modern psychology, in that it sought to understand the inner workings of consciousness through experimenting with the world around us. Dalí felt that this is exactly what he was employing when he used his paranoiac-critical method. Surrealism for Dalí, is just another form of alchemy. Through his art Dali, just like Alchemy, combined different ideas ranging from physics to philosophy. He wanted to release the secrets of alchemy through his brush. Thus when it came time to create this suite Dalí wasted no time in working restlessly to forge soon to be unforgettable images.

Collectively these prints showcase Dalí’s ability to expand his artistry in various genres. Dalí drew inspiration from the wide spectrum of Alchemy to find ideas that would be ideal subjects for his prints. The finished product would include an eclectic group of images ranging from Chinese to Arabic origins. As eclectic would be the techniques Dalí applied to produce them. The print The Yin and The Yang explodes with colors from the center outwards. The Emerald Table depicts hues simply but elegantly as they wash over the surface of the piece liquefying into droplets of vibrant oranges and greens. The Angel of The Alchemy shows an all together different capacity by having the image appear as a precious metal that displays an intricate design composed of what seems like improvised scratches. The King and The Queen takes advantage of abstract forms to display figures that barely resemble a royal couple as they are drenched in liquid gold. The Labyrinth makes use of modernist styles in order to show the complexity of an actual maze.

Salvador Dali

Through his mastery, Dalí modernizes these ancient images. The prints are also accompanied by copies of ancient text. These texts reveal the hidden messages of Alchemy and provide grand insight into many of the themes Dalí used for this suite. Within the text are six serigraphs based on drawings Dalí created specifically for this work.

These artworks are wonderfully crafted through the use of ethereal color tones and illustrious compositions. So captivating are Dalí’s images that most won’t notice how beautifully he breaks away from convention and combines different styles of art. As individual pieces this prints are some of the most sought after Dalí works. Together they stand in a class of their own.