Extensive Salvador Dalí Exhibit Hits South Florida: Curator Christine Argillet Takes Us Inside

Categories: Art

Courtesy of Relevant Communications
Salvador Dalí
Dalí: Over the years, he's been viewed by many in many different lights - pioneer, madman, caricature, visionary. But regardless of one's perspective, it's difficult, if not impossible, to deny that the man was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, the mustache-laden, bug-eyed king of the dada-ists and the surrealists, and that with his works he was able to transport the viewer to foreign dimensions that spewed from his mind onto every wall where his prints and paintings hang, dimensions that were beautiful and jarring and bewildering all at once.

Florida is no stranger to the works of Salvador Dalí, with one of the finest collections in the country (and some would argue in the world) found in St. Petersburg at the Dalí Museum. But now, another incredible assortment of the surrealist master's art can be seen in the Sunshine State, and this one is significantly closer to home. The Argillet Collection, curated by Madame Cristine Argillet, daughter to Dalí's longtime publisher and confidante, Pierre Argillet, is going on a touring exhibition around the US. The tour begins at the Wentworth galleries in Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton. While the exhibit officially opens February 1st, you can preview the collection of Dalí's etchings and original drawings right now, nearly all of which are available to be bought.

Argillet is not one who ought to be downplayed in terms of her connection with Salvador Dalí. Her experience with the man was altogether unique, growing up with one of the people who was closest to him and spending all her summers, from the ages 5 to 17, in a hotel across from his house in Spain.

"That was the only way my father had to get his contracts done with Dalí," explained Argillet, "otherwise Dalí would just sell his works, and that happened a few times, so at a certain point, my father was upset and decided we would spend the two months of July and August each year in front of Dalí's house...I saw him nearly everyday in July and August, a few times more in Paris when Dalí was coming."

Courtesy of Relevant Communications
Christine Argillet and Salvador Dalí, 1970's
It's hard not to smile at the thought of Dalí wandering into the market with a new drawing and selling it to a random stranger, drawing the ire of his publisher until Argillet finally decided to move his family across the street from the artist's home for two months at a time just to try and contain him to some degree.

It's equally interesting to imagine growing up around the archetype of the eccentric, yet ingenious artiste.

"You know he had those slippers, those shorts, and he was working a lot. He was always very enthusiastic, always very positive, always trying to find new ways of showing things, of astonishing people. I remember each time we would go, I would be amazed by new things he had found and which were exhibited in his home," Argillet recalled.

Dalí didn't simply amaze his guests with paintings in progress and lively conversation. Argillet laughed when she remembered a device he'd made that allowed him to move his mustache using tape and how he told her that he'd found a way to make his mustache move on its own using a special mixture of cologne and specific herbs that he picked behind his house.

She also recalled that Dalí, rather than keep an ashtray on the table, had a tortoise that just ambled around the room carrying an ashtray on its back.

"You would see an ashtray moving in the dining room and you would look down and see that the ashtray was place on the shell of a tortoise and the animal would just wander in the dining room, bringing the ashtray to everyone," Argillet said. "There were always things like that happening and it was very fun."

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