The brilliant sparkle of a diamond, the saturated blood-red of a ruby, and the rich deep blue of a sapphire become the building blocks of one of Salvador Dalí’s lesser known artistic enterprises: jewelry design. The renowned Catalonian artist, most famous for his mind-bending Surrealist paintings of dream worlds and for his eccentricity as a self-proclaimed “genius,” began to design his jewelry collection in 1941 and continued the artistic project until 1970.
The world of modern art is at times criticized for a certain reputation of exclusivity and mystery in which the more inaccessible a certain artist or artwork may be, the more valuable and reputable the art becomes. Salvador Dali, the most famed member of the twentieth century avant-garde movement, Surrealism, on the other hand, challenges this perception that artistic creation is a closed-off affair for an elite few. Sure, Dali was no humble man of the people, and in fact is famous for his eccentric, narcissistic personality as he continually declared himself the most talented and significant artist of his generation (let’s not forget his autobiography graciously titled Diary of a Genius). However, Dali walks the line between artist and popular culture sensation as he created artwork that was meant to be seen and consumed by everyone. Many examples of Dali’s remarkable work may be found in the Art and Artists Files of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library and the American Art & Portrait Gallery Library at the Smithsonian, as well as the nearby National Gallery of Art Library.