Salvador Dalí, ‘VIIII, The Hermit, Neptune Astrological Sign’, 1971, Opera Gallery

Dalí and Gala were notorious creators of the esoteric, feeding off each other in search of divine truths and alternate meanings. Gala especially had a thirst for the tarot, and would often pull out a deck of cards during social gatherings in her castle. In tribute to his beloved, Dalí created a deck of 78 tarot cards that was released shortly before his 80th birthday. In this unique deck, Dalí moves away slightly from the traditional delineation of the cards to create a pastiche of artistic influences including Surrealism, Traditionalism, Christian iconography, Pop Art and Kitsch.
Dating back to the Renaissance, tarot readings were widely practiced in esoteric circles in Europe at the turn of the 20th century. Though disputed as more parlor entertainment than true divination, the secret society of men and women who contributed to the spread of Western occultism nevertheless utilized the tarot as part of their quest for self-actualization. Traditional decks of 78 tarot cards are split into two groups: Major Arcana, which houses 22 archetypical ‘trumps’ such as the lover, the wizard, the fool, the mood and death; and Minor Arcana, which is divided into cups, pentacles, swords and wands. Each suit has a corresponding illustrated image that relates to its suit, royalty and number. Interpreting the meaning of upturned cards in relation to the person sitting before them, trained readers of the tarot could offer insight and knowledge into the future.

Signature: Signed ‘Dalí’ (uper centre). Robert & Nicolas Descharnes have confirmed the authenticity of this work This work is registered in the Archives Descharnes under the reference No. d4818

About Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí was a leading proponent of Surrealism, the 20-century avant-garde movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious through strange, dream-like imagery. “Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision,” he said. Dalí is specially credited with the innovation of “paranoia-criticism,” a philosophy of art making he defined as “irrational understanding based on the interpretive-critical association of delirious phenomena.” In addition to meticulously painting fantastic compositions, such as The Accommodations of Desire (1929) and the melting clocks in his famed The Persistence of Memory (1931), Dalí was a prolific writer and early filmmaker, and cultivated an eccentric public persona with his flamboyant mustache, pet ocelot, and outlandish behavior and quips. “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure,” he once said. “That of being Salvador Dalí.”

Spanish, 1904-1989, Figueres, Spain