The latest exhibition at the Strozzi Palace is a walk back through time to the roots of modern painting. It retells the sad tale of three “angry men” culminating in an alleged meeting between Dalí and Picasso in 1926. Barely twenty-two years old, Dalí had come to Paris with his mother and sister. Upon entering Picasso’s studio, he exclaimed: “Master, I just arrived in Paris and have come to see you before heading for the Louvre.” The episode completed a series of encounters between Miró, Dalí, and Picasso while each was striving to invent a new visual language by contemplating the work of the other two.
What was it really like back then, when the European world was so perfectly made that it had to be unmade? The unmaking came through three linked movements in the early twentieth century: art, revolution, and war. In …