For Hank Hine, Executive Director of The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, it was quite natural to envision a retrospective juxtaposing two artistic titans: Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
"These are two great artists of the 20th century, and among the different voices that I've heard, people rarely speak of both with the same affection," he says. Hine wanted to sidle the works of these two very different personalities in one exhibit called Picasso/Dali, Dali/Picasso that opened at The Dali Museum this weekend; it runs until February 16.
This is a grand oeuvre: there are over 80 paintings and over 120 works in total in the exhibit, which is a joint venture with Barcelona's Museu Picasso, and also features work from 20 international museums as well as private collections worldwide. Mr. Hine says it took him 11 years from concept to realization, and the spark that fueled the exhibit was when he realized that the two artists were never before shown together.
"Either of these artists -- Dali and Picasso -- would have been happy to carry the mantle of the greatest artist of his generation," he explains, saying that they projected themselves as being self-sufficient, self-generating and self-realized and indebted to no one. "But universally we know that this is not true; everyone works in a context and we thought it would be valuable to show that context, biographically and historically," he added.
For that reason, the paintings done by the artists featuring similar subject matter (such as the Spanish Civil War which resulted in Picasso's Guernica and Dali's Premonition of Civil War) are shown side by side so visitors can see each artist's interpretation. The exhibit starts with paintings depicting Dali as a 17-year-old and Picasso as a 16-year-old, the former with a pipe and hat as though he were Van Gogh. "These were artists who at the onset, thought of themselves as creative people out of their element, and this is how they saw themselves until the end of their lives.
One work, Hine says, that is seldom seen is a collaborative painting done by both artists. Picasso drew part of it, and Dali added to it. This piece of work was kept by the Picasso family and Hine found it when he was doing research.
There is also an audio tour that is crammed with information about the artists' lives. At the end of the exhibit, people will walk away with a better understanding of nearly 60 years' worth of work from these two artists. The interpretations, says Hine, are fascinating to see because they yield dividends into the artists' thought processes. "While Dali drew from his dreams and subconscious, Picasso's inspirations were varied -- he even drew art from art," says Hine.
The exhibit travels to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona after its stint in St. Petersburg where it reopens on March 19th.