Dali/Duchamp at The Royal Academy

Thought this might be interesting and it was. Interesting in that I really am having difficulty in seeing Dali as the surrealist genius that is talked about.

I came away from this exhibition having learnt more about Duchamp and liking his sense of humour but perplexed about Dali- he tries too hard and his imagery is less surrealist and more bizarre for the sake it.

Take, for example this, The First Days of Spring from 1929:

Technically it is gorgeous to look at, but all the random images are just that…random.

It feels as if he wanted to shock and that became the end result of so many of his works.

However, I did like this, Morphological Echo from 1936, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom for poor Salvador in my book :


At this point, I could compare him with Duchamp and one particular ready made, one that was well protected in a glass box – ‘Please Touch’:

I could just hear Duchamp chuckling at the irony of this work being behind glass and it doesn’t feel that it was being made for shock value.

Duchamp’s readymades are, of course famous for all the reasons that Dali is, but what I hadn’t been so aware of was his early paintings and here was a revelation.

In the cubist work from 1912, The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes, Duchamp was combining his obsessions with chess, sex and science with the two upright chess pieces being surrounded by the swirling movement of electrons. It was unusual to find elements of movement in a cubist work, that was more for the Futurists, but here Duchamp fully embraces the notion of the fluidity of movement. This essay tells you a lot more about this and his other famous work of the same period:


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