Dali’s illustration for Alice in Wonderland
Salvador Dali’s illustration for Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll have been exhibited at the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts until March 25. Some of the six Spanish masters on display, including Picasso and Dali, crafted illustrations for classic literature. The current exhibition displays some 300 Spanish prints for the first time, on loan from Russian collectors Georgy Gens and Boris Fridman. To ease viewing, selected pages have been mounted on the wall, and boxes are displayed in glass cases. Computer monitors in the first room allow visitors to virtually leaf through the books in their entirety. With diverse techniques and electric color, the show provides a wild journey through the looking-glass of artists’ books.
Artists’ books take many forms, but share some basic features: they’re usually designed with special paper, fonts and covers, signed by the artist or publisher and produced in small numbers (usually from a dozen to a couple hundred). Printing techniques include etching, stone and wood, and the book itself can be produced as a scroll, a fold-out or loose-leaf sheets.
Dali’s surrealist illustrations for “Alice in Wonderland” perfectly capture the book’s hallucinatory spirit, bringing Carroll’s caterpillars and white rabbits to life with electric, dripping gouache. Dali probably could have done the minimalist etchings for “Faust” and “The Old Man and the Sea” in his sleep, but his later “Dix Recettes d’immortalite” is more experimental, incorporating papermache, metal and plexiglas.