A Discovery of DALÍ
It was back in 1991 that a venue opened up in Montmartre showcasing a private collection of some 300 works, sculptures, engravings, objects and furnishings by Salvador Dalí offering a unique glimpse into the work and world of the Surrealist sculptor, designer, engraver and illustrator. Dalí Paris re-opened its doors to the public last April offering a new journey into the world of the artist and enabling the public to discover the art dealer and collector, Beniamino Levi, who assembled the collection, which remains the only permanent exhibition in France, devoted to Dalí, the master of Surrealism.
Beniamino Levi, an eminent Italian gallery owner started putting the collection together in the 1970s. Upon returning to Milan after the Second World War, he frequented actors in the effervescent artistic scene, notably Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri and became friends with the art critic Franco Passoni with whom he opened the Galleria Levi in Milan. He first met Dalí in 1974 in his suite at the Meurice hotel where Dalí and his wife Gala resided during their Parisian sojourns. Levi would first purchase two paintings, the 1932 Egg on the Dish without the Dish and The Invisible Harp done in 1934, which he exhibited in his gallery in Milan. After additional encounters in Paris, New York and Dalí’s home in Cadaquès in Spain, the collector launched into a new challenge, editing the sculptures of Dalí and he would progressively acquire the rights to 29 images taken from the artist’s most celebrated paintings including the Persistence of Memory, the Temptation of Saint Anthony and The Burning Giraffe, giving him the possibility of having bronzes made from models conceived by the artist. The bronze sculptures of these images were cast in Switzerland at the legendary Perseo Foundry, which casts the work of Alberto Giacometti and Fernando Botero.
Today, Dalí Paris, which has been given a redesign by the architect and scenographer Adeline Rispal offers a meander through the artist’s works and allows the visitor to embark on a non-exhaustive journey into the artistic path taken by Dalí and revealing a not so well known segment of his work while putting the spotlight on his technique and creativity. The museum segways into a gallery and while the museum presents rare sculptures, the gallery offers these works in different sizes and patinas for collectors in limited editions.
The venue also hosts exhibits devoted to contemporary artists and little known aspects of Dalí’s work in a dedicated gallery space. The current exhibition features two literary themes with Dalí Paris paying tribute to the French Surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who died 100 years ago, with an exhibition putting a contemporary spotlight on his Poèmes Secrets (Secret Poems), which were illustrated by Dalí. The 21 drypoints on copper that Dalí made for the opera Faust in the version translated by Gérard de Nerval are being presented in a pared down and modern display. - P.V.
Dalí Paris 11 rue Poulbot (18th), 01 42 64 40 10