The Salt Lake Tribune: Making magic out of any moment,’ Salvador Dalí remembered in special collection coming to Park City

Reprinted from The Salt Lake Tribune

Many art lovers remember the first time they saw a piece of art created by Salvador Dalí.

Maybe it was the melting clocks in “The Persistence of Memory” or the arachnid-like legs of the creatures in “The Elephants.”

Christine Argillet had a much more personal experience with Dalí’s genius.

Argillet is the daughter of Dalí’s publisher and confidant for more than 50 years, Pierre Argillet, and she spent much of her childhood with the artist.

“Dalí had something very special,” she said. “He had a way of making magic out of any moment.”

She recalls seeing an ashtray moving around his studio. Dalí had secured it to the back of a tortoise to create a portable ashtray.

“It was always very simple, charming, poetical, intended and unexpected,” Argillet said. “That was the kind of magic that was always fascinating small children like me or grown people.”

Argillet, who splits her time between France and Los Angeles, is bringing some of that magic to Park City’s Old Towne Gallery, where the Argillet Collection will be on display and available for acquisition this month starting Friday, March 10..

The works being shown were left to Argillet after her father died in 2001, and many of the pieces are serialized — the ones she allows collectors to purchase. About 80 pieces will be on display in Park City, with about 65 etchings and a few watercolors, drawings, porcelain plates and tapestries.

Dalí saw the world as few others did, Argillet said. She will be showing the well-known etching “Medusa.” Dalí created it after finding an octopus that had died and washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. He took the carcass, immersed it in acid and placed it on a copper plate.

“It was a real, magnificent profile of ‘Medusa,’ who he depicted with a beautiful bottom as well, so it was seduction and death at the same time,” she said. “From this very unexpected animal, he created ‘Medusa.’ ”

Argillet said Dalí operated under what he called the manifestation of chance. Unexpected moments would inspire him to create paintings, etchings, plates, films, novels and tapestries.

“He was always trying to find links between things that happen in front of him and his own truth — his own search as an artist,” she said. “He wanted always to combine what would be a sign of fate, or manifestation of chance and his own path to create something extraordinary.”

She loves many of his works, but some of her favorites are the hand-woven tapestries for which he created the art and then directed master weavers from the Aubusson region of France to produce. Those weavers translated his watercolor and ink into deeply warm representations using silk and wool, she said.

She will present the collection to gallery visitors from March 17 to 19. Meeting appreciators of Dalí’s art is one of her favorite experiences.

“I’m always eager to see how his work is received; even if this is historical work already, Dalí always surprises people,” Argillet said. “There is an extraordinary depth to all the layers he puts into his work. Seeing people envisioning an aspect I had never had in mind is very rich and beautiful.”