Robert Descharnes was one of the main authority on Salvador Dalí’s sculptures, he is the author of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, ‘The Hard and the Soft, Sculptures and Objects’. Following is an excerpt from his book:
"Subjects come from the numerous themes Dalí used at different instances in his carrier, like the soft watches, the "Persistence of memory", or elephants. A few deserve to have the story of their birth told:
Example: The Horse Saddled with Time."A little before 1980, Beniamino Levi asked Dalí for a sculpture of a horse. He immediately started to mould the animal by working on a wooden model with joints that he patiently wound up in a web of white wax. Seated next to him in the salon of the Hotel Meurice, I was charge with preparing the white wax while observing from the corner of my eye the birth of what should have been a fiery stallion. Yest it was still a bandage. And then, little by little, kneaded by the thumbs of the artist, the small layers of wax gave birth to the horse. To finish the sculpture, Dalí moulded a soft watch like a saddle. At the end of the day, after five hours work, the model was ready to go to the foundry." Robert Descharnes quoting R.D. Carnet
Simply because an artist is a master in creating oils or drawings, there is no reason to assume that he or she will be an expert in other types of media, each which require an enormous amount of teaching and study. Dalí was not primarily a sculptor, neither was Picasso, Chagall nor Miro. All of these artists created sculptures as well, though they did not have the technical skills to work in a foundry.
Dalí’s direct involvement was to form the idea, the image and to create the original maquette or model. The maquette can be a wax form, plaster, a drawing or a gouache. There is no difference in the choice of different media of the maquettes, as the molds and bronzes are created by the hands of artisans and technicians. Dalí was directly involved in the creation of sculptures originating from his original maquettes and expressly indicated (through contract) the realization of edition of sculptures from his maquettes.
The involvement of the technician in the process is the creation of the mold using Dalí’s original model specifically created and designated by the artist for sculptural edition, pouring the bronze, then later applying the patina.
Like many artists, Dalí wanted to see his famous iconographic images in a three-dimensional form. In order to do this, a technician is needed who is an expert in making bronze sculptures. In many cases, even artists who are primarily sculptors, such as for instance Henry Moore or Arman do not create the sculpture. The sculptures themselves are created by technician who are experts in making bronze sculptures. For instance Magritte’s famous sculptures, sold in a million dollar price range at auctions, were created by artisans strictly based on the artist’s drawings.
“The famous soft watches are nothing else than the tender, extravagant, solitary, paranoic-critical Camembert of time and space” – Salvador Dalí