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Courtesy of Off the Wall Gallery

Christine Argillet’s childhood was the same as any other save for one detail: the presence of artistic genius Salvador Dalí, a family friend. The daughter of Pierre Argillet, Dalí’s publisher and confidante for more than 50 years, she spent her entire life near the artist and is now curator of “The Argillet Collection,” one of the most vast and comprehensive compendiums of Dalí’s work.

On display (and available for acquisition) at Off the Wall Gallery (5015 Westheimer Rd., Ste. 2208; 713-871-0940; offthewallgallery.com) in Houston beginning September 21, the collection gives guests the opportunity to see the works and meet Argillet herself. (She will make appearances on September 28 and 29.)

“The Argillet Collection” divides its permanent home between the Museum of Surrealism in Melun, France, and the Dalí Museum in Figueres, Spain. Included in the Off the Wall exhibition, which runs through September 29, is the rarely seen “Songs of Maldoror,” 50 etchings created by Dalí between 1934 and 1973 that have been exhibited only once before during a four-month stint at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Here, Argillet (pictured above with the artist) shares some of her fondest Dalí memories.

Q: How did you get so close to Dalí?
A:
When I was six or seven, my parents would spend the entire summer in Spain close to Dalí’s house for a very important reason—he was otherwise selling the artworks that were my father’s publications to anyone who came by the house. So my father was very angry and decided we would spend the summer there.

Q: Give an example of one particularly special memory.
A:
Even as a child I was surprised at what an incredible imagination he had. His house was composed of a number of different houses, reunited, that were former fisherman’s houses that created a labyrinth. When Dalí would see me and notice that I was bored, he would tell me to go up to his bedroom and look behind the bed and bring down what I find. [Once] I found a huge glass jar of bonbons! I brought them back down and Dalí told me to go outside and stand discreetly behind the fisherman and throw them on the shore. These were little cherry candies that would make popping sounds when they hit the shore. I was scared but it was so hilarious.

Q: Do you have a favorite work in this exhibit?
A:
I am leaning toward his tapestries that are wonderful handwoven artworks. I also love the Argus that has a hundred eyes that are all different—different and foreboding as to what is going to happen in Greek mythology. It is very colorful and unique in the way it is presented. It’s a magnificent work done in a nontraditional way.

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