In Antonio García Villarán’s piece The Disaster of Competition, he creates a conversation between two modern Spanish masters: Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The two artists were contemporaries with long-standing and well-documented careers. While in their background the two had many similarities, the stylistic choices within their art were very individual. Pablo Picasso was at the forefront of the Cubist movement. Dali was initially inspired by the Cubist movement but joined the Surrealist group in the late 1920s and firmly established himself as a leader in that artistic movement. García Villarán perhaps asks us to think about the competitive nature of dominating artists who are both creating works as contemporaries. Is it possible that this rivalry even served to push and inspire the two artists?

Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain in 1881. He displayed keen artistic acumen from a young age. As a young man, he was sent to Madrid to study in one of the finest art academies in Europe. A few years into the 20th century, Picasso became inspired by African Art leading his artwork to take a new artistic direction categorized as Proto-Cubism. For the rest of his career, he explored and expanded his works to create and co-founded the Cubism movement within art history. He was particularly famous for employing this style in portraits, including many works showing his sitters in agony or distress. García Villarán chooses one of these portraits of a weeping woman as the base of his NFT. 

García Villarán chooses the iconic soft clock from Salvator Dali’s signature Surrealist style as the intersecting art for his NFT creation. Dali was born in the Girona province of Catalonia in 1904. Similar to Picasso, he also displayed apt talent at a young age and was sent to Madrid for formal art education and training. He initially was attracted to the emerging Cubist style, led by Picasso but instead decided to join the Surrealist school in 1929. He quickly became a leader in this style and spent time in France and the United States, where he began to become a significant commercial success. The melting clock in his works was a common motif. It represented the mastery of time over the human race and the world that we live in. Even in the mystic world of Surrealism, time marches onward through the scenes of these artworks. 

García Villarán’s combination of the two contemporaries makes the viewer consider their two different artistic legacies. The men were quite competitive with one another throughout their careers as both saw themselves as the leaders of the most prominent artistic movements in Europe at the time. The artists first met in 1926 during a visit to Picasso’s studio in Paris. That meeting spurred a unique friendship and rivalry. García Villarán seems to ask the viewer to contemplate this complicated relationship and to ponder whether this competition between the two could have actually been the source of inspiration and determination to create some of the most well-known and respected artworks in the modern world.

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