What a surprise to have a quick flurry of e-mails and telephone calls with Christine Argillet who, with her very talented artist husband Jean and her son and his girlfriend had decided to make a trip to Santa Fe. Christine and Jean have been here about three times before and my wife Melinda and I are always delighted to see them. What a sparkling and fun evening we have when we meet for dinner. It has been equally fun to meet for lunch or to have them visit our home in the canyon. We have also gotten together several times at their home in Venice, California.
Naturally there was talk of Christine’s totally unique father, art publisher, photographer and gallerist Pierre Argillet. I remembered my visit with Pierre at his chateau south of Paris and the Argillet’s added much from their extensive experiences. Viken Argillet had spent a lot of time with his grandfather on various occasions, including when he could not fly out of Paris because of the 9/11 attacks. I suggested that these experiences helped him develop his “eye” as a filmmaker and he enthusiastically agreed.
Christine told me that when her father and Dali hit on an idea for a suite of prints illustrating a text, they were both so impatient to see the results that their joint energy was frenetic. I have seen many of the preliminary sketches that Dali did during their discussions. I have also seen a lot of the “home movies” Pierre made of the “happenings” they staged and of other visits to the chateau by Salvador and Gala. The best of all–which Baron Philippe duNoyer has promised me a copy of–is a short clip of Salvador Dali dancing the Charleston on the lawn.
What a pleasure it was to get a Dali fix from this delightful family just days before I fly to Atlanta for the closing of Elliot King’s A-1 exhibition of the late works of The Master. How do I know the show is so good before I even see it? I’ve been spending time with the excellent catalog that Elliott gave me when we met for lunch last month.
And…..speaking of the show and the catalog, there is something that I have not mentioned previously. Elliott astounded me with the information that he had only a year to plan the exhibition with the staff of the High Museum, arrange loans of the major works from institutions in the US and Spain, write the catalog with essays by other Dali scholars and pull all of the thousands of details together prior to the opening. I was astounded. Such an exhibition usually takes three or four years of work.
I’m getting pretty excited about the trip to Atlanta and then on to St. Petersburg. I have seen a great many of the works in the show, and, of course, have appraised all of the paintings at The Salvador Dali Museum. Elliott was even able to include the iconic and internationally-known 1931 oil “Persistence of Memory” from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I always enjoy asking people who have not seen the actual painting how large they think it is. The answer is usually expressed with hand movements indicating a work about 20 by 24 inches or larger. It’s only 9 1/2 by 13 inches! That makes it even more impressive.