Dalí, Picasso and the Crucifix

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Tuesday, 2018, March 27

The most recognizable icon of the Christian religion, the Crucifix is one of the most studied and interpreted symbols in art history. The twentieth century has seen many new interpretations on the theme of the Crucifixion.

Geometric schemes and symmetries, are both present in the painting “Christ of St. John of the Cross” (1951) by Salvador Dalí and in the painting “Crucifixion” (1930), a work by Pablo Picasso.

However, if in the work of Picasso, the geometries seem to evolve into complex figures, which merge real and abstract elements, anticipating his most famous work “Guernica” (1937); in “Christ of St. John of the Cross”, by Dali, the three dimensional aspect of the painting is its most recognizable trait.

The triangle made by the arms of Jesus and the crucifix denote the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and Dalí depicts the head of Jesus formed in a perfect circumference.

These symbols were specifically chosen by Dalì, for the composition of this pictorial masterpiece, as for Dalì the circle and the triangle represent, in a perfect way, his metaphysical cosmic dream projected towards the resurrection and the religious dimension of the Trinity.

The body of Christ at an angle, gives the canvas a three dimensional appearance, that seems to embrace the otherworldly and the Divine. Christ seems alive, his hands are not pierced by nails, his body, with perfect muscular anatomy, is devoid of blood.

In this 1951 masterpiece, Dalí wished to illustrate the resurrection of Jesus and his conquering of death. Perhaps for this reason, the painting “Christ of Saint John of the Cross” has a strong communicative, symbolic and religious power and is one of the most loved and visited artworks at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland.

From a chromatic point of view, in both paintings, colour is the protagonist of the artwork.

In the painting “Crucifixion” by Picasso, the often clashing colors were specifically chosen by the artist to distinguish the figures represented and their roles within the scene.

In the artwork “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”, Dalí represents the triumph of light over darkness; the dark colors of death give way to the clear and luminous colors of the resurrection, the colors representing an allegory of the painting itself.