Les Diners de Gala Salvador Dali (1973)
Exhibit: August 18, 2013 – March 2, 2014
In 1973 Les Diners de Gala (Gala's Dinners) was published and instantly became a Dal collectable. Les Diners de Gala was published as a collaboration between DalÃ and a secret chef. The â€œsecret chefâ€ being some of the top French restaurants of the dayâ€”including Lasserre, La Tour d'Argent, Maxim's and Le Buffet de la Gare de Lyonâ€”whose chefs created the recipes, and DalÃ, of course, took the glory. Their goal was to produce magnificent meals fit for a royal feast.
DalÃ was not only a brilliant artist, but also, had a self-proclaimed, of course, extremely refined taste for extraordinary food and wine. DalÃ's introduction to the book states that since he was a little boy he wanted to be a master-chef. At the age of 68, as a well-established artist, Dali created this book about his life-long gastronomic adventures.
DalÃ conceived and materialized Les Diners de Gala as a dedication to his wife Gala, who is stylized on the golden cover. With 136 recipes in twelve categories, this collection of eccentric formulasâ€”outlandish yet surprisingly appetizingâ€”includes an entire chapter on aphrodisiacs, the correct use of â€œatteletesâ€ (meat jewelry) and sketches of limbless dwarves eating eggs; with 55 feature recipes illustrated in color. DalÃ opens with a Dante-esque warning, â€œLes Diners de Gala is uniquely devoted to the pleasures of taste. Do not look for dietetic formulas here.â€
DalÃ adds to the adventure of the book with some linguistic loosenessâ€”fictitious Dalinian words like â€œhors-texteâ€ and â€œgastro esthetics.â€ In explaining his â€œgastro esthetics,â€ the artist noted, â€œIn fact I only like to eat what has a clear intelligible form. If I hate that detestable degrading vegetable called spinach, it is because it is shapeless, like Liberty.â€
In conjunction with the release of the book DalÃ also produced a twelve lithograph suite titled Les Diners De Gala (printed in 1971). This portfolio, complete with a distinctive engraving in the lower margin of each work titled Spoon with Crutches, is a Surrealist twist on some of DalÃ's favorite meals. These lithographs are the astounding outcome of DalÃ experimentation with mixed media and are regarded as his most unique prints. With an edition size of 590 and 50 artist proofs, this portfolio is AP (artist proof) 37 of 50.
â€œInformed by DalÃ's distinctive style, the tome presents a heady blend of hallucinatory illustrations set against surprisingly appetizing recipes. Les Diners de Gala was a tour d' force of book publishing. Long out of print, the volume is a coveted collector's item because of the outlandish recipes that capture the flavor of DalÃ and Gala's unlimited imagination, dining preferences and the extraordinarily lavish way DalÃ illustrated this most exceptional of cookbooks. The flamboyant book is a veritable stroke of genius â€“ its gold cover emblematic of how practically everything DalÃ touched turned to gold.â€
DalÃ cleverly assembles the food in such a manner as to form a head with eyes, a pronounced nose and the suggestion of a wide mouth with a few teeth showing. Flowing over it is a long, bushy mustache. Below the main scene is an etching of a huge spoon, propped up by a crutch, reminding us it's all suitable for eating (in DalÃ's false memories, discussed in his autobiography, he likened the shape of a spoon to a women in a long dress!). And we must remember that food was a favorite theme in so much of DalÃ's work, his paintings, prints and other works are filled with images of bread, fish, lobsters, sea urchins, grapes, meats and more.
â€œIt was therefore perfectly logical and perhaps long overdue that DalÃ should produce a book and a print suite dedicated expressly to gastronomyâ€”a colorful world in which DalÃ's creative genius wasâ€”cooked to perfection.â€ With a lifelong interest in the culinary and gastronomical arts, DalÃ was known to have experimented with various foodstuffs as aphrodisiacs; much like Giovanni Casanova (1725 â€“ 1798) the Italian Bon Vivant with a notoriously delectable palate for pleasure and extravagant foods. DalÃ would eat and interact with various foods that he believed kept him in good health. He was famously rumored to have bathed in sardine oil and to have taken afternoon naps with live lobsters in his bed. Another recipe for genius, courtesy of Salvador DalÃ. Let's eat!