Permanent Collection - Teatre-Museu Dalí

The different collections managed by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation include all kinds of works of art: painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, installation, hologram, stereoscopy, photography, etc., up to a quantity of some 4,000 pieces. Of these, some 1,500 are on show in the Teatre-Museu Dalí of Figueres.

The name Teatre-Museu Dalí covers three differentiated museum spaces, which propose a free and personal route around its rooms:

1) The Theatre-Museum itself, formed by the old burnt-out theatre converted into a Theatre-Museum based on the criteria and design of Salvador Dalí himself. This series of spaces form a single artistic object where each element is an inextricable part of the whole.

2) The group of rooms resulting from the progressive enlargements of the Theatre-Museum, where Dalí’s personal intervention is either testimonial or non-existent. These galleries are located in the Torre Galatea, are they feature several works from the Dalí legacy, as well as some of the new acquisitions made by the Foundation.

3) The gallery Dalí. Jewels, inaugurated in 2001, which includes the thirty-seven gold jewels set with gems of the old Owen Cheatham Collection, two jewels made later, and twenty-seven drawings and paintings on paper that Salvador Dalí made when designing the jewels.

The Teatre-Museu Dalí contains a wide variety of works which portray the artistic trajectory of the Empordanese painter, from his first artistic experiments - Impressionism, Futurism, Cubism, etc. - and his Surrealist creations, up to his later works. Some of the most notable works exhibited here are “Self-Portrait with l’Humanité” (1923), “Port Alguer” (1924), “The Spectre of Sex-Appeal” (1932), “Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops Balanced on her Shoulder” (1933), “Soft Self-Portrait with Fried Bacon” (1941), “Poetry of America-The Cosmic Athletes” (1943), “Galarina” (1944-45), “The Bread Basket” (1945), “Atomic Leda” (1949) and “Galatea of the Spheres” (1952), among many others.

Special mention must also be made of the series of works created by the artist with the express aim of being exhibited permanently in the museum, works which range from paintings and sculptures to complex monumental installations. Notable in this group are the Mae West room, the Palace of the Wind room, the Monument to Francesc Pujols and the Rainy Cadillac.

Although the work exhibited is basically by Dalí, there are also works by other artists who Dalí wanted to include: Antoni Pitxot, Evarist Vallès, the private collection of Salvador Dalí with works by El Greco, Marià Fortuny, Modest Urgell, Ernest Meissonier, Marcel Duchamp, Gerard Dou, etc. Similarly, in different galleries of the Theatre-Museum, works can be found by Bouguereau, John de Andrea, Wolf Vostell, Meifrén and Ernst Fuchs, among others.

Since the death of Salvador Dalí, in 1989, one can also visit the crypt with his grave, situated in the centre of the museum; a space which was remodelled in 1997 in order to exhibit there a collection of gold jewellery designed by the artist.

The new permanent exhibition DALÍ•JOIES, for which the architect Òscar Tusquets completely refurbished a building annexed to the museum, includes the thirty-seven jewels in gold and precious stones from the old Owen Cheatham collection, two jewels made later, and the twenty-seven drawings and paintings on paper that Salvador Dalí made in designing the jewels. The whole forms an extensive collection of works carried out by the artist between 1941 and 1970, providing a perfect illustration of the various phases of his artistic development.

With the consultancy and supervision of the Spanish Gemology Association, the collection was acquired by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation from a Japanese organisation in 1999 at a cost of 900 million pesetas (5.5 million Euros). Since that time, the Association’s experts, in collaboration with technicians from the Foundation’s Conservation Department and the Dalí Study Centre, have been cataloguing each of the pieces and designing a permanent exhibition for them.

The history of these jewels started in 1941. The first 22 were acquired by the US millionaire Cummins Catherwood. Salvador Dalí made the designs for the pieces on paper, with all kinds of details and great precision of shapes, materials and colours, while they were made up in New York by the team of the Argentinean-born silversmith Carlos Alemany under the close supervision of the artist himself. In 1958 they were acquired by The Owen Cheatham Foundation, a prestigious US foundation created in 1934 that lent the jewel collection out so that various charitable, educational and cultural organisations could raise funds by exhibiting it, and finally deposited it at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. The collection of jewels had already been exhibited temporarily at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres during the months of August and September 1973, a year before the Museum was inaugurated and while the Master was still alive. In 1981 the collection was acquired by a Saudi multimillionaire, and later by three Japanese entities, the last of which agreed to sell it to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.

All the pieces in the collection are unique items, and the combination of materials, dimensions and shapes used by Salvador Dalí make this a one-off set in which the artist managed to express in a unique way the wealth of his singular iconography. Gold, platinum, precious stones (diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, aquamarines, topazes, etc.), pearls, corals and other noble materials combine to form hearts, lips, eyes, plant and animal forms, religious and mythological symbols and anthropomorphic forms.

Following the models of the Italian Renaissance masters he so much admired (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Cellini, etc.), Salvador Dalí used all the idioms of modern culture to develop his artistic discourse: painting, drawing, etching, sculpture, architecture, photography, theatre, cinema, literature and silversmithing. With this work, carried out alongside his better-known facet as a painter, Salvador Dalí went once again more deeply into his global conception of art, seeing it as a language on which no limits were imposed and that had to be expressed through any medium and expressive technique.

As well as designing the forms of the jewels, Salvador Dalí personally selected each of the materials used, not only for their colours or value but also for their meaning and the symbolic connotations of each and every one of the previous stones and noble metals. Some of the jewels that form part of this collection, such as The Eye of Time (1949), Royal Heart (1953), or The Space Elephant (1961), have become key works and are considered to be as exceptional as some of his paintings.

Salvador Dalí said of these jewels: “Without an audience, without the presence of spectators, these jewels would not achieve the function for which they were created. The viewer is thus the final artist. His look, heart and mind – with greater or lesser ability to understand the creator’s intention – imbue the jewels with life.”

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