WHY NOT A DALI CATALOG?
Whether you spell it “catalog” or “catalogue” raisonne, it’s an important tool for collectors, curators, appraisers and others who want information about an artist and his art. Certainly the world of Salvador Dali has long needed a fully dependable catalog of the prints by and attributed to the Master. People have been asking me for years when I was going to write the definitive tome so that they and everyone else would not have to rely on only the sparse or frequently suspect information they were able to find in their research. At one point, I had a sponsor who committed a great deal of money to support such a project, but he then backed out when he realized the enormity of the task.
When that happened I was actually relieved. Why? Not only because it would have taken most of my time for up to two years, but primarily because it would have been out of date at publication. All information about Dali prints has to be gathered from a myriad of sources and many of them are not reliable because of their self-interest and agendas or the fact that they are trying to get their fake editions accepted and legitimized.
For many other titles there simply is no source of acceptable information. Publishers are out of business or dead. All of the information that is available about some titles is wrong–frequently intentionally.
One glaring gap is represented by the massive number of Dali prints illustrating the Divine Comedy. Almost all printed sources, including the original publisher’s tirage sheet and documentation, state the 100 prints are wood block prints or wood engravings–gravees sur bois. They are not. I believe I am the only Dali expert who, working with printers, printmakers and a print curator, has identified the manner in which they were printed. I have confirmed this with Daniel David, the director of Les Heures Claires, the publishing house that printed and distributed an estimated 8,534+ suites. Even the actual total edition is in dispute.
Through the examination of over 57,000 prints attributed to Dali, service as the expert for many federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies, having access to the files of many busted dealers and publishers and the rest of the vast experience that I have, I can say that my files are the most extensive and complete catalog available anywhere for the prints of Salvador Dali. Best of all, however, they are expanded, updated and corrected all the time as I obtain more information, meet more of the players and examine more prints and their accompanying documentation.
Any printed catalog will be inadequate in that the information available to its compiler is less than is contained in my files and will not change and improve in the way that the files do. Another very serious problem is that I have never found a catalog compiler who was adequate in his connoisseurship to personally determine the technical printing medium, or, as with Divine Comedy, the editions printed and distributed. What all of this means is that if another printed catalog is added to those that already exist, it will be used by a lot of people who will not then contact me for the truly credible and reliable information and may be using flawed information without knowing it. In other words, the problems with the Dali print market will not clear up and misinformation will continue to rule.
So, how does one access the information in the most extensive and reliable catalog of Dali prints? Check the website–www.bernardewell.com–and fill out the Service Request Form. I’ll share with you all of the information that I have for a title or a suite of prints.