Dali & Duchamp at the RAA


The Royal Academy of Arts  in London hosted the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the links between two of the twentieth century’s greatest artists: Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp. Here at Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls, we really enjoyed this exhibition. Both artists are like marmite. I personally prefer Duchamp, while many others much prefer Dali. Why? I love the radical freedom of his approach, while others love the skill and absurdity of Dali, amongst other things.

The exhibition was curated in such a way as to be split, thematically, into four sections that explore: identities, the body and objects, experimenting with reality and playing games.

There was the iconic: Duchamp’s Fountain, and bicycle wheel (the ready-mades) and Dali’s lobster phone and surreal oil paintings (First Days of Spring). But what though on paper these two artists seem polar-opposites, when you look a little closer they share so many similarities – eroticism, games and optical illusions. The exhibit also focuses on Dali and Duchamp’s relationship through photographs and correspondence which the two shared, highlighting their bromance.

What pieces struck me the most?

Dali’s ‘Sistine Madonna”, an optical illusion – as seen from a distance, a rendition of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna but made up of a huge blow-up of a newspaper photograph of Pope John XXIII’s ear, with the oversize pattern of halftone dots.

“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings” – Dali

Another, was the simple BBC video of Duchamp, explaining why playing chess is like art, with the emphasis being placed on motion – so beautiful and ever changing.

“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.” – Duchamp

I’ve seen a few of the more famous pieces before – the Barbican hosted the highly anticipated Dada exhibition in 2013 – what a strange but fantastic exhibition that was! And at the Foundation de l’Hermitage, in Lausanne, Switzerland, it was the first time I set eyes on the lobster phone!

A must see! On until 3rd January.

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