La maison sans fenêtres
Year:
1949
Author:
Maurice Sandoz
1892 to 1958
Artist:
Salvador Dalí
1904 to 1989
Publisher:
Seghers

La maison sans fenêtres was published by Pierre Seghers (1906-1987). This publisher/poet was responsible for a long series of publications of poetry. Before World War II he founded the magazine Poètes casqués, which was renamed Poésie 40 in 1940, ever since which the title has referred to the year of publication (Seghers died during volume Poésie 87). During World War II he published clandestine collections of poetry while operating in the very centre of the intellectual Resistance. In May 1944 the first volume of a series of anthologies and commentaries on international poets was published: Poètes d'aujourd'hui. The first issue was about Surrealist poet Paul Éluard, with whom Seghers collaborated several times.

A genius

Éluard drastically altered the life of the illustrator of this edition, Salvador Dalí, or rather: Éluard's wife Gala Diakonoff did. When Dalí met her in 1929, he immediately fell in love with her. Never averse to mythological 'upgrading', he saw her as Donato Bramante's Tempietto, the most important Renaissance-inspired building: 'with the same slender pillars in her form' and 'the divine steps of her smile'. Gala was to remain Dalí's muse and spouse.

The painter wrote in his memoirs Journal d'un génie (My Life as a Genius) that an artist should be Spanish and should be named Gala Salvador Dalí (which is what he sometimes called himself). It was his mission in life to rescue 'the modern art of painting'. During a court case, he said he was a genius, and friends who considered this immodest were told that he simply had to tell the truth: after all, he was under oath.

Dalí also said that he had devoted himself to Surrealism as nobody else had. As far as the expression of thoughts and the unconscious without taking into account either aesthetics or morality was concerned, this was correct. He wrote: 'I became such an avid Dr. Surr., that I swiftly developed into the only 'professional Surrealist'. This happened in such a way that Breton finally ejected me from the group for being too Surrealist'. Imagination, dreams, symbolism and ambiguity were- and remained- important elements in his work, although they would become increasingly determined by commercialism and public relations.

The illustrations in La maison sans fenêtres are based on pen drawings with watercolour. When a pianist sets foot in the mysterious Villa Niervana in Sandoz's story La maison sans fenêtre (The House without Windows), Dalí drew a number of pianos on a plain, with one piano floating up in the air. They were made of bricks, overgrown with bushes, with water pouring out from under the lid. Snakes are playing on the keyboard with their forked tongues.

Bibliographical description

Description: La maison sans fenêtres / Maurice Sandoz ; ill. par Salvador Dalí. - Paris : Seghers, 1949. - 116 p., [8] pl. : ill. ; 27 cm
Printer: Union (Paris)
Edition: 2500 copies
This copie: Number 1660 of 2500 on Alfa-Marais
Bookbinder: Schrijen (Sittard)
Bibliography: Bénézit 4-195 ; Monod 10152
Shelf-mark: Koopm A 109

References

  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
  • Salvador Dalí, Mijn leven als genie. Chosen, translated and introduced by Gerrit Komrij. Amsterdam/Antwerpen, Uitgeverij Atlas, 2004
  • Jacques Gaucheron, 'Les collections Pierre Seghers', in: La pensée,(1950), 28 (jan), p. 104-108
  • Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí: 1904-1989. Köln, Taschen, 1999
  • Max Lucien Scheler, 'Pierre Seghers', in: Europe, 66 (1988),705/706, p. 176-179

Illustration by Salvador Dalí (after p. 16)
Illustration by Salvador Dalí (after p. 16)
Illustration by Salvador Dalí (after p. 28)
Illustration by Salvador Dalí (after p. 28)