The Pierre Argillet Collection
Pierre Argillet was an avid collector of works by Futurusts, Dadists and Surrealists, and very early on, met the major artists of the 20thcentury. In 1930, at the age of twenty, Argillet was deeply impressed by the “Chants de Maldoror” of Lautreamont. He began a spiritual journey along a path that was originated by Rimbaud and later pursued by Lautramont, Marinetti, Andre Breton, Tzara and de Chirico. He counted Duchamp and Jean Arp among his acquaintances, but when he met Dali, complicity led to a life-long friendship that lasted until the painter’s death in 1989.
Be it luck or fate, Dali’s delicious vision led to a long and fruitful collaboration between artist and publisher. They produced nearly 200 etchings. To name a few: Mythology (16 engravings), Christ, Sainte-Anne, Incantation. In 1966, Dali reworked seven pieces of the Bullfight set of Picasso, giving them with his macabre, yet humorous vision. Images hidden in the crowd and arena suggest the skull of a bull fighter. In another etching, a galloping giraffe catches fire as if in a tragicomedy. His subjects vary from windmills, parrots, fish and a statue of a woman.
In 1968, Dali illustrated “Night de Walpurgis” of Faust (21 engravings) using rubies and diamonds as engraving tools, a technique that lent an incomparable delicacy to the design; next came the “Poemes” of Ronsard (18 engravings) and “Apollinaire” (18 engravings). In 1969, Dali created “Venus in Furs” after Sacher Masoch (20 engravings), and between 1970-71, the Suites of Don Juan (3 engravings) and Hippies (11 engravings).
In 1974, artist and publisher parted ways. Pierre Argillet would only accept etchings done in the traditional way, on copper, and refused to go along with Dali’s desire to make photo-based lithographs. By using this process, Dali went on to produce a large number of works that appealed to a more widespread audience than ever before, but they were also subject to more criticism.
The Pierre Argillet Collection demonstrates high standards of quality, and the impassioned collaboration between an artist and his publisher. This ensemble of works has appeared in the best-known museums in the world: Musee Boymans, Rotterdam 1971; Musee Pushkin, Moscow, 1988; Reynolds-Morse Foundation, St. Petersburg, FL; Kunsthaus, Zurich and Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart 1989; Isetan Museum of Art in Tokyo; Daimaru Art Museum, Osaka and the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan, 1990. This collection’s permanent home was formerly at the Museum of Surrealism in Melun, France and the Dali Museum in Figueras, Spain.