As Picasso himself said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” So Dalí began his career by “stealing” from Picasso, stimulating the development of his own unique style. Picasso was 23 years Dalí’s senior and was already an established figure in the art world when Dalí was a young aspiring artist. He was a huge admirer of Picasso and sought inspiration from him.
Dalí’s first associations with Picasso were very literal – he boldly stole from Picasso’s themes and visual language. This can be seen clearly in the two pieces Group of Female Nudes (1921) by Picasso and Bathers of Es Llaner (1923) by Dalí, which are astoundingly close in their style and content. As he progressed, however, Dalí developed his own personal and distinctive expression while still retaining elements of Picasso’s visual language and symbolism, and when Dalí’s career took off, Picasso went from being his greatest source of inspiration to being his biggest rival.
The artists first met in 1926 when Dalí visited Picasso’s studio in Paris. At the time, Picasso was reworking a style of cubism infused with surrealist ideas of dreams, sexuality and the irrational. The visit equipped Dalí with a newfound maturity in his artistic language, making him more conscious of composition and symbolism in his work. Subsequently, they began to develop in parallel, from their work with surrealist “objects of symbolic function,” their powerful responses to the atrocities of the civil war and their work inspired by Velázquez.
In 1947 Dalí painted Portrait of Pablo Picasso in the Twenty-First Century (One of a series of portraits of Geniuses: Homer, Dalí, Freud, Christopher Columbus, William Tell, etc.), a slightly horrific portrait which sums up their deeply contradictory relationship. The painting uses heavy symbolism to criticise the “ugliness” that Dalí saw and disliked in Picasso’s later work while putting him on a pedestal and evoking his genius.
A poem by Anne Sexton
A shoe with legs,
a stone dropped from heaven,
he does his mournful work alone,
he is the old prospector for golf,
with secret dreams of God-heads and fish heads.
Until suddenly a cradle fastens round him
and his is trapped as the U.S.A. sleeps.
Somewhere far off a woman lights a cigarette;
somewhere far off a car goes over a bridge;
somewhere far off a bank is held up.
This is the world the lobster knows not of.
He is the old hunting dog of the sea
who in the morning will rise from it
and be undrowned
and they will take his perfect green body
and paint it red.
Destino was initially a collaboration between Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney. The project began in 1945 and was finally completed 58 years later. Production ceased due to Disney’s financial problems in the WWII era. In 1999 Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney unearthed the project and decided to bring it back to life by hiring a team of French animators to produce the film based on Dalí’s notes and storyboards. It was finally released in 2003.
Who would have thought that Dali, the artist of dead animals, skulls, and horrific monsters, could work together with the all-American promoter of family values and happily-ever-after? It seems they had more in common than meets the eye. Their differences are nicely summed up in their personal descriptions of the plot of “Destino”: Dalí described it as “A magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.” Walt Disney said it was “A simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”
Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was the first designer to explore irony in fashion. She stands out for her sense of humour and wild imagination, which have made her one of the most influential fashion designers of her time. Schiaparelli’s designs are not only humorous but also thought provoking. She was, above all, an artist. Coco Chanel –her biggest rival– referred to her as ‘that Italian artist who makes clothes’.
Modern art, particularly Surrealism and Dadaism, were a great source of inspiration to her and she did many collaborations with artists of these movements, including Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau.
The Tears Dress, one of her collaborations with Dalí, is a beautiful evening gown in pale blue and magenta. The fabric is a trompe l’oeil print of rips and tears, designed to give the illusion of torn animal flesh worn inside out.
This year Christian Lacroix will be unveiling the 15-piece collection which he’s designed for the house of Schiaparelli in honor of her legacy. His designs wil be reinterpretations of her most famous creations, so it should definitely be something to look out for!