Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Surreal Life of Salvador Dalí

by Lauren Stewart-Ebert

On October 18th, the Hotel Drouot in Paris held an amazing auction in tribute to the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Featuring a multitude of photographs and objets d’art, the collection chronicled an intriguing and surreal life.

He was born in 1904 in Figueres, Spain nine months after the death of his older brother, also named Salvador. When he was five, Dalí’s parents told him he was the reincarnation of his deceased brother.

On the subject of his brother, Dalí said, “We resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.”

In 1922, Dalí began his studies of art in Madrid, where he became friends with Federico García Lorca (and rejected the poets’ advances). He was expelled from the academy several years later when he said that no one on the faculty was competent enough to examine him.

Salvador Dalí and Gala

He met his muse and future wife, Gala, in 1929. His father greatly disapproved as Gala was already married and eleven years Dalí ‘s senior. This ended Dalí’s relationship with his father but began the most passionate and prolific period of the artist’s life.

Salvador Dalí and Gala in front of “The Madonna of Port Lligat” 1950.

“The Persistence of Memory” 1931.

In 1931, Dalí painted what would be his most famous work, “The Persistence of Memory.” The melting clocks in this painting would later be re-imagined as beautiful crystal sculptures by Daum.

Clock Hanger, 1971.

The Big Guitar, 1971.

From 1954 to 1974 a series of photographers worked with Dalí on various occasions, including Robert Whitaker (best know for his work with the Beatles), Lucien Clergue, and Jean-Marie Perier.

The persona of Salvador Dalí was well accounted for in these photos.

Portrait of Salvador Dalí by Philippe Halsman, 1954.

“Emperor Dali” by Robert Whitaker, 1968.

When Gala passed away in 1982, Dalí lost his will to live and on several occasions was thought to have attempted suicide. In 1989, Dali died of heart failure in his home town of Figueres. He was buried at the Teatro Museo in Figueres only a few blocks from the Church of Sant Pere, where he was baptized as a child.

The Teatro Museo in Figueres, Spain.

Dali was admired as both an artist and an eccentric. Perhaps the legacy of Dalí was best summed up by Dalí himself in an interview with Mike Wallace:

“Dalí is immortal and will not die”.

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 10:31:00 PM
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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Country French, Not Just for the French Countryside

by Lauren Stewart-Ebert

The perfect Country French home.

What we call “Country French” today is based on French Provincial styles (French Provençal). Unlike most other notable French styles (Louis XV, Louis Philippe, etc.), Country French does not originate with a time period but with a lifestyle.

Exposed ceiling beams and a rough, natural stone floor give warmth to this Country French kitchen.

During France’s “Golden Age” under the reign of Louis XIV, the areas closest to Paris prospered the most. The lifestyle of Provincial farmers, however, remained largely unchanged. Life was simple and slightly primitive for the peasant farmers of Provence. The furniture trends and styles originating in aristocratic Paris (the hub for style in France, and in all of Europe) took a long time to find their way to the South of France.

Simple, rustic furniture functions as well today as it did hundreds of years ago.

This rustic elm table has a base painted in a soft-colored milk paint.

Farm tables were clean, with simple lines, often made of pine or oak. Milk paint – a natural paint made of milk, lime, oil and pigment – was often used to protect and brighten up the woods. Metals became rusted and heavily patined with use.

A lifetime of wear does not diminish the appeal of this hand painted buffet.

A hand carved Country French chair with a rush seat.

There were, of course, wealthy country dwellers familiar with the styles in Paris. Although they did not have access to the exotic woods and metals used for the aristocracy, these provincial “bourgeois” had pieces crafted to resemble those of the courts. In the provinces of France buffets, enfilades, commodes and armoires were crafted out of walnut or other indigenous woods.

A solid walnut “enfilade” buffet exhibits the classic Louis XV features while maintaining the warmth of the Country French style.

A solid cherry wood Louis XV table with cabriole legs.

More than anything, the look of Country French is spontaneous and lived in. It reflects the warm, agrarian life of rural France where form follows function.

Country French style doesn’t stop within your walls…

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 07:57:00 PM
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