Sipping Wine for Salvador Dalí

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Dalí drawing
Salvador Dalí drawing from the Argillet collection. Shown at Russell Fine Art Gallery, Austin, Texas.

This past Saturday night, a friend and I went to check out the opening reception for a show of Salvador Dalí prints and drawings for sale at Russell Fine Art Gallery.

I’ve been to openings at the Russell many times. It’s one of the few places in Austin (that I know of) that brings in work by big-name artists. And by “big-name” I mean artists that anyone on the street would have heard of. The last show I saw there featured Degas, Cassatt, and Picasso, amongst others.

The thing about these shows — and it’s not surprising — is that they always seem to be prints and drawings (i.e., most decidedly NOT paintings). I can understand that: The paintings by folks of this caliber surely have been snapped up by major museums decades ago.

But I’ve never really been a lover of prints or drawings. Or etchings or engravings. You get the idea. The recent online classes I’ve been taking in art history have given me a bit more appreciation for prints, by getting me to look past their mere appearance (which is often in black and white, of course) into their historical significance: as a way for art to be copied and disseminated widely to people who couldn’t afford to buy paintings or travel to see them in museums (and of course before television and the internet!).

Anyway, I’m getting off track a bit. I enjoy going to these art openings as way to educate myself about different artists and see their work, even if I can’t afford to drop $30K on a large, hand-tinted etching by Salvador Dalí (with 12 MONTHS NO INTEREST FINANCING, as was prominently displayed in several places around the gallery, along with signs reading NO PHOTOGRAPHY (more’s the pity)).

It’s also fun to look around at these receptions and wonder who, of all the wine-sipping grandees in attendance, is able to purchase such fare. Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great. More power to ’em. If I had that kind of money, I’d probably be spending it on art. But for now, it’s nice to know that I can go and see it, bring a friend, and enjoy a free glass of wine while I’m at it.

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