Dalí and Duchamp, a Dadaist, and a Surrealist. A public persona, and a timid lone artist. A painter, and a conceptual artist. What brings them together? The exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts is the first major exhibition in the UK to answer that question. It demonstrates the artistic, philosophical, and personal links between two artists who shared a friendship for over 30 years.
The exhibition is spread out through four rooms. As you walk into the the first one, it gives visitors a background on both artists; how they became friends and some of their earliest works, mostly paintings and photographs. It guides you through the process of the artists discovering their styles.
The second room explores their take on body and objects. Here, one can view the most famous of their readymades, as well as their take on sexuality and unconscious desires, present mostly in Dalí’s work.
The third section shows both artists experimenting with reality and the various mediums that they were using. Here, you can see how they both explored film, unconventional forms of objects, and installations. The last section of the exhibition is dedicated to both artists’ love of games. Again, there are documentary films screened on the wall about their take on games; humorous situations which have their part in the art-making process. In the cabinet in the back you can see their artefacts, as well as the chess pieces designed by Dalí in honour of his favourite chess partner, Duchamp.
The exhibition showcases the extraordinary relationship between these two artists. On one hand, they seem to be complete opposites; a self-named genius, and a genius who shied away from crowds. But, on the other, they were both explorers and inventors with a great sense of humour. Putting their work side by side shows how ideas and mediums can be experimented with on many levels, but don’t have to be dull like a theoretical essay. The exhibition is not large but it is packed with content. Every piece is carefully explained and set side by side with other pieces which help to illuminate the ideas behind them.
Dalí/Duchamp is at the Royal Academy of Arts form 7 October 2017 to 3 January 2018. The student ticket costs £10.00, an adult, £15.00. This exhibition might be a one in a million chance to see famous works by the artists: Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ or ‘L.H.O.O.Q’ and Dalí’s ‘Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach’. It is a must see for any art geek.