Thursday, 12 January 2017
Salvador Dali, Angels and Me
The Assumption is an elevator.
It ascends because of the
weight of the dead Christ.
On 1st September 1952 Salvador Dali wrote in his diary that he was trying to take down his painting of the Assumption in order to paint the upper parts when the pulleys on the machine he used for the purpose failed to function properly and the canvas became unfastened, and fell from a height of ten feet and disappeared into "the trench".
The artist feared that the painting would be scratched, probably even torn, and that three months of work would be wasted. The best that he envisaged was that he would have to spend wasteful time "in wearisome efforts at restoration".
The painting was retrieved with the assistance of a man who descended into "the trench".
Dali spoke of "a miracle!"
The masterpiece was intact. There was not a scratch or a single speck of dirt on the canvas. "No-one who has tried to reconstruct the event can understand how this could have been possible, if the intervention of angels be excluded," he wrote.
Less than 48 hours after my reading of Dali's account of the so-called "miracle" a strange event took place.
I was standing on a small stepladder reaching up to hang a painting above my bookcase. I was making use of an old and slightly deformed brass picture hook I had just come across in a box of miscellaneous nails and screws.
Suddenly the picture plunged down the wall and disappeared into a narrow gap between the back of the bookcase and the wall - there was the ominous crash of breaking glass!
Like Dali's painting mine had also fallen from a height of about ten feet.
I glanced up at the hook and saw it was no longer a hook but a straight piece of lustrous metal.
When I retrieved the broken frame, the several pieces of glass and the painting (on 300gm cotton paper) from behind the bookcase I was surprised to discover that my painting, which was a Crucifixion of Christ, was also unharmed.
Dali's angels are apparently my angels too.
Humbly I thank them.