Salvador Dali & Marcel Duchamp

The catalog for The Dalí Museum’s new exhibit, “Dali/Duchamp,” explores the friendship and strings of influence between the two artists. Duchamp’s groundbreaking assemblages and readymades are put on display, while Salvador Dali’s most inspired and technically accomplished paintings and sculptures are showcased. Convergence between the two mavericks is also shown within collaborative pieces. The exhibit is made up of approximately 60 pieces of artwork, including some of the artist’s lesser-known pieces: photographs by Dali and paintings by Duchamp, all of which invites visitors to examine the relationship between Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp. Their friendship commenced during the early 1930s when Marcel Duchamp met Salvador Dalí through the surrealist group in Paris, and the pair remained close until the Duchamp’s death in 1968.

The exhibit is presented in the form of a conversation that highlights the parallels and crossovers in Dalí’s and Duchamp’s work. Both artists shared similar interests, such as wordplay, optics, and games. These interests can be seen as reoccurring themes in their separate bodies of work. Yet another theme the artists shared was symbols of eroticism. In other words, these two were not afraid to push boundaries and mix irreverent concepts in order to create thought-provoking pieces. That shared sense of humor and audacious attitude is perhaps what helped encapsulate them as notable figures, even to this day. 

The sense you’re supposed to get as a visitor is that these two iconic mavericks were more than just art history’s odd couple; they challenged and thus altered the conventional views of art. Consider this: Since Dalí and Duchamp’s art projects in the 20th century, Salvador Dali’s famous lips continue to inspire designers with considerable acclaim, Marcel Duchamp’s readymades are still concepts used in modern art, and their shared artistic tenor for erotic innuendoes still circulate modern art collections. What’s more is that the irony—the mix of silliness and intelligence, and the madcap that they embraced—is still used as a source of inspiration by artists today. To pay homage to these two greats and see their assortments of art, in the flesh, head over to The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida; the exhibition will be going on until May 28th.