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Dalí Museum Showcasing Friendship with Duchamp, Asks ‘What is Art?’

Feb 9, 2018

The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg on Saturday opened a new exhibit showcasing two of the twentieth century’s most influential artists.

The exhibit showcases surrealist Salvador Dalí and French artist Marcel Duchamp - best known for using ordinary objects in his art and for poking fun at traditions, such as when he painted a mustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa.

Beth Bell, marketing director for The Dalí Museum, said the mutual artistic influence of Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp, will move visitors to rethink their definition of art. The two men were friends for 30 years.

“Our curatorial staff was really inspired by the relationship between both Dalí and Duchamp,” she said. “They had been studied separately over the years, and we have this new interest in their relationship and their friendship which makes this show unique.”

Dalí’s surrealism is well known in the Tampa Bay area, while Duchamp’s notoriety stems from using ordinary objects - such as urinals - and elevating it as an art form. Bell said visitors familiar with the permanent collection at the Dalí will be able to see several additional pieces of the Spanish artist during this show.

One of the most famous is Dalí’s Christ of St. John on the Cross, a piece that rarely leaves its original museum, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Scotland.

Bell said the goal of this exhibit is to have visitors question the definition of art.

“We want to challenge what our visitors think about what is defined as art, just as Dalí and Duchamp did in their lifetimes,” she said.

All special exhibits at The Dalí showcase an artist who had some kind of connection with Dalí himself, Bell said. Dalí and Duchamp’s relationship has never really been explored before.

“It’s a unique opportunity and I think that’s what inspired our curatorial staff to bring that here and really let our Salvador Dalí fans at the museum see that relationship.”

The exhibit will be on display until May 27. Throughout, the museum will be hosting events and programs such as “Drag Queen Bingo” in collaboration with the Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Ybor City (Feb. 22) and a full day about chess with lectures and games (March 29.)