Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol: Separated at Birth or Barely Related?

THE DAILY PIC: A new book traces what Warhol and Dali had in common – although their differences may matter more.

THE DAILY PIC (#1670): A new book just came out called Salvador Dali & Andy Warhol. Across its 416 pages, author Torsten Otte dishes out everything you could want to know about either artist, and both together. The book is built like a middle-school Venn diagram, thoroughly mapping where the two artists intersect but also all the many moments in their lives in which they don’t. I’d say that the misses may  matter more than the points of contact.

What joins the two, more than anything, is the fact that they were both true superstars. Dali, however, made art that could  stand or fall without his public persona – you could as easily imagine it coming from a recluse with OCD – whereas Warhol made art that was all about the nature of celebrity and its public, with him as one of its vital art supplies. Dali preferred standard oil paint.

Just for the sake of completeness, however, here are two Dalihol (or Salvandy) factoids – with maybe the stress on “-oids” – that I’ve uncovered during my own Warhol research that are not in Otte’s book.

Factoid I: Dali had a high profile in Pittsburgh during Warhol’s high-school and college years, appearing often in the annual surveys of contemporary art hosted at the Carnegie Institute’s museum, where Warhol took classes and hung out. In the edition of the survey held during Warhol’s junior year in art school, a notable Dali was the first work in the first room.

Factoid II: In Warhol’s freshman year, his college’s famous Beaux Arts Ball was revived after a long break. The theme for its costumes and props was Surrealism, and surviving photos of the ball make it clear that Dali was the principal source of ideas.

I have a feeling, however, that all that early exposure to Dali didn’t so much turn him into an inspiration for Warhol as into a figure to be outdone and undone – or used  like a pigment on Warhol’s Pop palette. Judging by Dali’s sour face in the photo that is today’s Daily Pic, shot by Jade Albert in New York in March of 1976, it looks like that’s how he felt as well. (Image © Jade Albert)

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