April 27, 2012
In the artistic work of Salvador Dali, it is possible to discover numerous sporting elements incorporated almost exclusively in the presurrealist and surrealist periods.
Dali’s affection for cycling is reflected in some of his pictorial works. In several of them, he represents a horde of cyclists, riding in various directions in a perspective of great depth ; the
cyclists — all bearded — carry different objects on their heads : round stones in “Illuminated Pleasures” (1929), long loaves of bread in “Babaouo” (1932), heavy stones that hold down the
ends of an ample wedding veil in the decor for the ballet “Sentimental Conversation” (1944) and strange tubers in “Surrealistic Gondola on Burning Bicycles” (1934). In other canvases — “The
Little Theatre” (1934), “Medium-paranoiac Image” (1935), “Perspectives” (1936), or “Hollywood” (1967) — it is possible also to observe among the characters a few cyclists crossing the
scene. In 1959, Dali painted one of the twentythree official postcards for the Tour de France.
April 27, 2012
Jean Metzinger, a sensitive and intelligent theoretician of Cubism, sought to communicate the principles of this movement through his paintings as well as his writings. Devices of Cubism and Futurism appear in At the Cycle-Race Track, though they are superimposed on an image that is essentially naturalistic. Cubist elements include printed-paper collage, the incorporation of a granular surface, and the use of transparent planes to define space. The choice of a subject in motion, the suggestion of velocity, and the fusing of forms find parallels in Futurist painting. Though these devices are handled with some awkwardness and the influence of Impressionism persists, particularly in the use of dots of color to represent the crowd in the background, this work represents Metzinger’s attempt to come to terms with a new pictorial language.
The question of whether the theoretical aspects of Cubism enunciated by Metzinger bore any relation to the development in science at the beginning of the twentieth century has been vigorously disputed by art critics, historians and scientists alike. Yet in Du “Cubisme” Jean Metzinger and Albert Gleizes articulate: “If we wished to relate the space of the [Cubist] painters to geometry, we should have to refer it to the non-Euclidian mathematicians; we should have to study, at some length, certain of Riemann’s theorems.”
There was, after all, little to prevent the Cubists from developing their own pictorial variants on the topological space in parallel to (or independently of) relativistic considerations. Though the concept of observing a subject from different points in space and time simultaneously (multiple or mobile perspective) developed by Metzinger and Gleizes was not derived directly from Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, it was certainly influenced in a similar way, through the work of Jules Henri Poincaré (particularly Science and Hypothesis), the French mathematician, theoretical physicist and philosopher of science, who made many fundamental contributions to algebraic topology, celestial mechanics, quantum theory and made an important step in the formulation of the theory of special relativity.