Salvador Dalí

Memories of Surrealism – Introduction

lithograph on paper
Inventory number 494b

Pierre Restany, a French art critic, interviewed Salvador Dalí about each of the Memories of Surrealism prints. 

The text appears out of order on printed introductory pages to accompany the photo-lithographs. His introduction appears below. 

English translation from French


Dali's texts that accompany his original graphic works are the result of a double approach: a preliminary recording on magnetic tape was reviewed and corrected by myself following a personal bindery with the Catalan artist, g vi took place in Cadaquès on June 27, 1971. My retouching focussed on the explanation of certain references sometimes veiled in their logical sequence by the elliptical shortcut of Dalinist thought. I also respected the artist's mentions concerning some cultural or historical clarifications, as well as his more "technical" indications relating to the possible development of certain associations of ideas or certain passages of the comments.

Dali gave us twelve comments out of twelve vages that constitute these "Memories of Surrealism".

He delivered them to us without delivering them, according to the gushing of words and especially without surrendering. With Dali it is better to attack yourself: you receive from your message only what you are able to take from it.

I am all the more comfortable to ensure this comment of the comments.

First, what are these souvenir images really? They are in no way a repertoire

Exhaustive of the Dalinist visual universe but rather a selective panorama of its mental landscape.

The selection of symbols is made according to the concerns of the moment. The choice is not forced. Whether it is the butterfly, the elephant with stork legs or the garlic of the time, Dali only has to choose in his own mythology the element that accounts for this or that current phenomenon. As Gala told me, from this or that click, the sequence takes place in a logical way. Dali since he was Dali, is paraically self-structured. Living in a specific co-time, he is surprisingly able to grasp the moment of the thought of others, the different moments of the thought of an era.

When this time is ours, Dali's intuition is an unfailing revelator. His precise references to the latest developments in nuclear physics or the study of genetic structures clearly testify to this. But he also knows how to move from biochemistry to alchemy and from Einstein to Paracels: indeterministic science is the humus of Dalinian para-hermetic symbols. Para-hermetics, because for Dali the problem of the transubstantiation of matter is solved. He changes lead into gold by making a lot of money.

Dali's souvenir images are open spiritual dwellings, because revealed to themselves, they are no longer occult, the philosophical operation was successful.

Dali's art is an art of behaviour, of course. But the thing is not so simple. In Dali, the problem of the morality of language is not as clear or radically decided as in Marcel Duchamp, a great appropriator and predator of modern reality, inventor of ready-made. Duchamp did nothing, Dali does too much. How to harmonise the easy temptations of talent with the moral requirements of "exemplary" behaviour? Intuition sometimes solves the problem. Dali told me that he had met by chance the "spiritual house of Anne de Bretagne, her secret field of ermines, "rather death than defilement", in the interlacing of a basket of bread worked with a brush for hours.

Thinking he was looking for Chardin's simple joys, he had instinctively taken the great occult path of the alchemy of symbols.

In truth, the problem remains at the level of diffuse consciousness, from a general availability to the trigger event. This anguish has the freshness of an eternal youth: Dali is immediately at the heart of a fundamental humanity whose perfume he smells, of rare essence, like a drug. The zero degrees of the expression fascinate him. The other day, he was leafing through the catalogue of a recent conceptual art exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York: he stopped in front of Daniel Buren's alternating vertical bands, tirelessly repeated for four years. How does the message be identified through perfect neutrality of expression? Dali senses that Buren, in his own way, has been able to trigger the associative mechanisms that stimulate this mental laboratory that is the spectator's garlic. This great specialist in mental alchemy finds that in the field of the concept nothingness becomes gold. Through Buren, Dali's images-souvenirs lead to the endless perspectives of the moral expanse.

It is not to displease him, on this summer morning on his native land of Catalonia, when the pepper-and-salt hedgehogs die of thirst and the grey moustaches of art critics, unlike his own, sting to the ground.

Paris, July 1971