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French artist, Salvador Dali's secretary and biographer Robert Descharnes, dies at age 88
Two women look at the photographs of Dali taken by Robert Descharnes at the exhibit at Palau Robert in Barcelona. Photo: Courtesy Palau Robert.

By: Cristina Perez Ayala

PARIS.- The French artist Robert Descharnes, who collaborated as a photographer (and biographer) with Salvador Dali, was reported dead at 88 years of age in his home in France.

Robert Descharnes, won the consideration as biographer of the artist, although his relationship was deeper to the point that they shared artistic projects, and he enjoyed the rights to the masterpiece of the genius of Figueres. The death of Dali and his will left Descharnes without these privileges after a lawsuit that never could eclipse the connection between them.

The last secretary of Dali also headed a movement to collect signatures so that the genius could be buried in the Pubol palace next to Gala, instead of the Figueres Teatre-Museu.

Deschartes met Dali in 1950, when they were in the same boat returning from the United States. The painter was travelling with his wife Gala. The relationship between them started because of Salvador Dali’s interest in Descharnes’ knowledge of photography, thus initiating their mutual collaboration.

Through this collaboration, Descharnes accumulated more than 60,000 negatives in which he portrayed the daily life and eccentricities of Dali, as well as numerous manuscripts, videos and sound tracks of the artist, which helped Deschartes become an expert in the artist’s work. This knowledge aided him in writing several books and even made him one of the authorized representatives of the artist whenever the police and the justice system needed someone to identify Dali’s work.

Far away from Cadaques, in Murcia, the Archaeological Museum is the scene of an exposition composed of more than 130 images of Salvador Dali taken by Robert Descharnes.

In 2007, two decades after the artist’s death, Descharnes had a photography exhibit in the Cadaques Museum where he exposed a small part of his personal collection. “My photographs provide a rigorous historical testimony about this chief supported of surrealism and his art”, he explained in the showcase, in which he added that although Dali is a universal artist his work cannot be fully understood without the gepgraphic references of Cadaques and Cap de Creus.

In the presentation of said exposition, Descharnes explained that he conserved the nasal tubes through which Dali was fed during the last days of his life. “I did it to preserve DNA samples. I have taken them to the United States so scientists can obtain Dali’s genetic code, and it can be compared to other geniuses, such as Leonardo Da Vinci”, added the photographer.

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