‘Cosmic Madonna’: An almost unknown work by Dalí goes up for auction after 50 years in a private room | Culture


First color photograph of 'Cosmic Madonna', painted by Dalí in 1958 that goes on sale.
First color photograph of ‘Cosmic Madonna’, painted by Dalí in 1958 that goes on sale.

Cosmic Madonna, one of the paintings made by Salvador Dalí in 1958, within his mystical-nuclear period, had not been seen since his last exhibition in New York in 1965. Now, after the death of its owner, he has had it in the living room of his house for more than 50 years, his heirs put it up for sale. The canvas is a work measuring 152.5 by 91.5 centimeters that was renamed by Dalí as Van Gogh’s ear cut dematerializing from its ghastly existentialism and exploding like a pion during the dazzling of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna; a second title that he wrote on the back of the work. Until now, only black and white images of this painting were known, so its release to the market has allowed us to have, for the first time, its real image and see the colors, especially red and blue, that Dalí used to paint it.

The statement released by the owner of the painting includes opinions of experts such as that of Eliott H. King, curator of the 2010 exhibition Dalí: The Late Work, at the Atlanta museum, which ensures that “the resurgence of painting in all its dazzling color establishes it as one of Dalí’s most successful and elaborate works of art during the postwar period.” Regarding the secondary title, King assures that “Dalí recalls the hypothesis of medieval theologians that the Virgin Mary conceived through the word of God, and, therefore, was inseminated through her ear.”

In the same statement it is stated that: “Madonna Cosmic It is the last Dalí masterpiece that can be acquired by a person or private entity, since all the others of this caliber are already in museums or private collections around the world ”. It has been developed a web page where all the information related to the painting is provided, with detailed images and videos of it, as well as photos of the artist next to the work, possibly in the first of his exhibitions. Also with the contact information for potential buyers, although no information is provided on the approximate price of the painting.

Dalí with his painting 'Cosmic Madonna' in one of the few exhibitions in which it has been seen so far.
Dalí with his painting ‘Cosmic Madonna’ in one of the few exhibitions in which it has been seen so far.

The piece that goes on sale is inspired by the Sistine Madonna carried out in the 16th century by Rafael; one of the painters that Dalí most admire (after the Dutchman Johannes Vermeer and the Sevillian Diego Velázquez), for embodying the classical tradition. The same year that he was painting this picture, Dalí, comparing himself to Rafael and despite his enormous ego, wrote: “I am a bad painter. If I compare my canvases with those of the Renaissance, with those of Raphael, for example, I realize the total disaster of my work. But this does not prevent him from being, thanks to my style, one of the best current artists ”. In 2018 at the Theater-Museum of Figueres the exhibition could be seen Dalí-Rafael. A long daydream, to explain Dalí’s devotion to the Italian painter who featured a masterpiece from the Prado, The Virgin of the Rose, painted by Rafael in 1517 along with various works that inspired Dalí.

Madonna cósmica is one of the paintings from the mystical-nuclear period created by the painter, in which he deals with religious themes under the prism of scientific advances of the moment. One of its first manifestations is another Virgin, the Madonna of Portlligat, of which he painted two versions, one in 1949 and one in 1950. The same year that he painted this Cosmic Madonna, Dalí created, according to the reasoned catalog of paintings of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, a total of 18 oil paintings; portraits of characters from the North American ruling classes and other religious-themed paintings treated from this perspective, such as the Guadalupe’s Virgin and his best known work of this moment, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, a huge painting measuring more than four by three meters, which can be seen in the Florida museum created by Reynolds Morse, Dalí’s greatest collector.

Dalí in 1951 in the library of Portlligat, reading under a fragment of 'Transfer of Christ', painted by Rafael in 1507, a photograph that could be seen in the exhibition organized by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in 2018 to show the influence of Rafael in Dalí.
Dalí in 1951 in the library of Portlligat, reading under a fragment of ‘Transfer of Christ’, painted by Rafael in 1507, a photograph that could be seen in the exhibition organized by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in 2018 to show the influence of Rafael in Dalí.Ricard Sans / Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation)

According to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Cosmic Madonna (illustrated with the only known black-and-white photo) had been exhibited only three times previously, all three in New York: at the Carstairs Gallery, between December 1958 and January 1959; the place where the painter always exhibited and put up for sale everything he had painted during the previous summer in Portlligat. Two years later, in 1960, it could be seen at The Finch College Art Gallery, within an exhibition dedicated to the surrealist painter and the third and last, in 1965, at the Gallery of Modern Art, in the anthology Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965, that could be seen in the American city.

Unlike Dalí’s engravings and drawings that are present in many auctions, the release of one of his oil paintings is rarer. The work that has reached the highest price in one of them is Paul Eluard’s portrait (1929), which was sold at Sotheby’s in London in 2011 for 15.9 million euros. They follow him Necrophic spring (1936), which was also sold at Sotheby’s, but in New York, for 13.8 million euros and Moment of transition (1934), After its sale in 2014 at Christie’s in New York, it reached just over 7.7 million euros. All three are from the surrealist period of the painter, the most highly valued, although they are works of small size, compared to that of the Cosmic Madonna which is now on sale.


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