When you think of Salvador Dalí, you might think of a whimsical mustache and melting clocks. When Christine Argillet thinks of Salvador Dalí, she thinks of her childhood summers on the coast of Spain.
Christine Argillet, the daughter of Dalí’s publisher and close friend Pierre Argillet, brings her family's rare collection of Dali works to Chasen Galleries April 23-30. (Photo courtesy Christine Argillet)
Christine Argillet, the daughter of Dalí’s publisher and close friend Pierre Argillet, is the curator of her family’s rare collection of Dalí’s original works. “Salvador Dalí: The Argillet Collection” includes about 80 copper etchings, watercolors, drawings and three hand-woven tapestries. The collection – and its owner – will travel to Richmond for the first time to be displayed in Chasen Galleries from April 23 to 30.
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Pierre Argillet (seated) and Salvador Dalí. (Photo courtesy Christine Argillet)
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Christine Argillet sits with Salvador Dali. (Photo courtesy Christine Argillet)
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Dali and Argillet at the Argillet family home in Spain. (Photo courtesy of Christine Argillet)
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Salvador Dali was a surrealist painter whose work also included film, sculpture and tapestries. (Photo courtesy of Christine Argillet)
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Another shot of Christine Argillet and Dali. (Photo courtesy Christine Argillet)
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A scan of Dali's signature. (Photo courtesy Christine Argillet)
Pierre and Dalí (1904-1989) first met in Paris in the 1930s, and then reunited in the 50s after World War II. Eschewing projects with other artists, Pierre worked exclusively with Dalí until 1973. From age 8 to 18, Christine spent the summer months with her father in Spain near Dalí’s home.
“This special relationship between me, my family and Dalí, and the bond of my father and Dalí, created this very unique collection known as ‘Dalí: The Argillet Collection,’” says Argillet, who now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. “It has defined my work, my journey from childhood to maturity, and my family history.”
Reaching back to her childhood memories, Argillet says Dalí was “a true workaholic” and would sometimes work from 6 in the morning to 6 at night. “You could see Dalí working, using all kinds of tools, inventing new ways of drawing and etching,” Argillet says. “He was always experimenting with new techniques.”
After those 12-hour work days, Dalí would unveil his work, and it was always amazing, Argillet recalls. But Dalí wanted more than admiration; he wanted to be understood.
He would bring the fisherman who worked near his home or the old lady down the street up to his studio and ask for their input, Argillet says. “I have the feeling that he would attach as much importance to an art critic or another artist [as] to very simple people who were not especially knowledgeable in art,” she said.
The Argillet family has continued this legacy of sharing Dalí’s work among all types of people, ranging from those who have studied his style to those who have never heard of Surrealism.
Andrew Chasen and Jeff Timlin, president and gallery director of Chasen Galleries, respectively, say they feel honored and privileged to be the next stop for this traveling exhibition.
“The work that he’s famous for is the work you see in art history textbooks, but those are only his original paintings,” Timlin says. “This is a different side of him.”
Argillet agrees, explaining that while his paintings were done very slowly, copper etching was a rapid kind of drawing that showed a “very alive” side of Dalí.
These copper etchings are a diminishing resource, Argillet says. What started out as a collection of more than 200 works is now down to 80 because the art is being sold off as it travels from place to place.
The exhibition at Chasen Galleries will show a side of Dalí that most people do not know, Argillet says, offering the opportunity to reconsider his work.
“You have to fulfill your dream and always have to try to make your dreams possible,” Argillet says on how Dalí has inspired her. “That’s something that has really been etched in my mind. Everything was possible with him.”
“Salvador Dalí: The Argillet Collection” will be exhibited at Chasen Galleries (3554 W Cary Street) April 23-30. All works at the show will be available for purchase. Christine Argillet will make two special appearances April 29 and 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free but RSVP is required by phone (204-1048) or email (email@example.com).