|Courtesy of www.dalipaintings.com|
Dali was engaged in a number of different projects in 1954. In addition to preparing for a small-scale retrospective of his work at the Palazzo Pallacivini in Rome that May, the artist worked with French photographer Robert Descharnes on a film project entitled The Prodigious History of the Lacemaker and the Rhinoceros, which was left unfinished. In painting, Dali worked with a range of themes, executing a series of historical subjects, portraits of Gala, similar to Madonnas by Raphael, in line with his new theory of nuclear mysticism, society portraits, and completing his great Crucifixion at Metropolitan Museum of Art. Amid this activity, Dali also painted two pastoral scenes of life in Port Lligat, far removed from the international stage on which he now performed.
Two Adolescents is a patently erotic image of sexual maturation. The two youths, wearing traditional Catalan sandals known as espardenyes, pose in the nude on the wall of Dali's garden, with the Bay of Port Lligat in the distance. The treatment of the lithe reclining figure, whose pose is based on Adam by Michelangelo from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, is far more detailed than that of his companion; Dali pays particular attention to the youth's fleshy pink genitals and dark pubis. The standing figure, whose pose is based on Michelangelo's David, is an image of nascent masculinity and youthful pride. Executed in a more summary manner, and lacking a face with which to return the intense gaze of his mate, he is transformed into an erotic object, the narcissistic double of the reclining youth.