Alain Briot • Collecting Art II: Visiting Museums

After a close-up experience with a Dali masterwork in Paris, Alain Briot realised that understanding how art was created was an illuminating journey

The first original Dali painting I saw was Seven Apparitions of Lenin on a Piano at the Beaubourg Museum in Paris, as it was then called. My Beaux Arts student ID card gave me free entrance to art museums and I made liberal use of it, frequenting them freely. What surprised me the first time I saw this painting in person was its size. It was quite large and I had expected something rather small. Books don’t give you a sense of size and reading dimensions are not the same as being face-to-face with the artwork. However, what impressed me more than the size was the attention to detail with which Dali painted it. I was studying painting at the time and I could clearly see from the facture that Dali had used small sable brushes, both round and flat-tipped. Only these brushes could deliver not only the fine detail but also the smooth paint application I was witnessing.

What I was seeing conflicted with the image of the artist that the media and public opinion had built for me. That image was in conflict with the execution of the work. While not flawless, the painting I was looking at exhibited the work of someone more prone to OCD than to fits of madness. While it was a surrealist representation, its execution showed planning and carefulness. Instead of being gestural or impulsive the facture was composed and deliberate. Dali may have been mad but if so it was a controlled madness, one that he let go when painting and made space for a careful, almost ...

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About Author


Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials. Alain’s three books are available as printed books on and as eBooks on his website.

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