Playing Cards – The Diamond Suit

Hand signed Limited Edition Lithographs

1972

25” x 20”

There is a suite that contains most of Dali’s icons and is presented in a whimsical playful fashion. It appeals to a wide range of Dali’s fan base because, like the melting clocks, the visual aspect and content are catchy and clever. Playing Cards plays upon a subject we are all familiar with, a deck of playing cards. Dali takes the familiar and makes it surreal, that is what makes these pieces so successful. There is no “wrong” design for playing cards, in fact their existence challenges one to think of new designs. Dali takes full advantage of this.

Among the seventeen pieces in the suite we find an array of compositions, colors, traditional and non-traditional symbols. Each piece is like a hyper puzzle that can only be put together by the greatest surrealist of all, Salvador Dali. The face cards are done masterfully and brilliantly arranged.

Dali - The Ace of Diamonds
Ace of Diamonds

This suite of Diamonds offers a fantastic glimpse of Dali’s ultimate creative juices. Dali’s The Ace of Diamonds presents the watch or clock imagery that is as instantly associated with Salvador Dali. Dali’s razor-sharp draftsmanship has often been said to have a jewel-like clarity and precision about it. The center of the clock is also a bull’s eye of a target while above it a glistening ant crawls into view, a popular Dalinian prop that symbolizes decay.

Dali - The Queen of Diamonds
The Queen of Diamonds

The Queen of Diamonds, viewed in one direction, has an interesting nose, mouth, and set of eyes – all composed, appropriately enough, of numbers: 8’s constitute her eyes, her nose is a 4, and 8’s again form her mouth. But viewed in the opposite direction – turn the card upside down – we see the Queen’s eyes and mouth transformed into what might be described as a Picasso-like composition. And why not? Dali often nodded to other artists he admired, and Picasso was one of them. You’ll notice a background figure of a girl skipping rope. This is a recurring, almost obsessive image in many Dali works, for he loved the double-imagery of how the same figure of the rope-skipping girl also looks like a bell in a tower, when positioned appropriately in a church nave. The red rose the Queen holds lovingly is a classic symbol of beauty.


Dali - The Jack of Diamonds
The Jack of Diamonds

In The Jack of Diamonds we see a Pinocchio-like nose so outrageous in its elongation that it requires support from a Dali crutch, yet another commonly seen element in Dali’s personal symbolism. The Jack’s hat has a royal-looking swan emerging from it, while his curly mustache just might remind us of the facial hair of a certain Surrealist artist! Turn this delightful card upside down and Dalinian Surrealism springs to life in the form of a human eye in an unlikely juxtaposition with the face; two drawers that are Freudian symbols of introspection and self-analysis; and one of the most popular themes in Dali’s works: the figure of a father walking with a child, holding his hand.


Dali - The King of Diamonds
The King of Diamonds

The King of Diamonds completes this four flush of colorful Daliesque delirium. The king’s nose dematerializes to reveal pieces that look like a rhinoceros horn. Nothing random about that, however; Dali was “obsessed” with the shape of the rhino horn, since it was a naturally occurring example of a perfect logarithmic spiral. In one view, the king’s crown offers two spear-like structures that parallel the same shape of his sharply exaggerated nose. We encounter Dali’s precision again in the detail of the face, two contrasting expressions, one of fear and one of sleep.


Together this suite celebrates a tradition of Playing Card artistry and surrealism. The lithographs are among Dali’s best works and should be regarded as one of his purest examples of his genius.