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Salvador Dali

 (1904 - 1989)
Salvador Dali was active/lived in France, Spain.  Salvador Dali is known for surrealist painting, drawing, photography, sculpture.

Salvador Dali

    DAH-lee  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from

Biography photo for Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali was born May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain. From an early age Dali was encouraged to practice his art and would eventually go on to study at an academy in Madrid. In the 1920's Dali went to Paris and began interacting with Picasso, Magritte, and Miro leading to his first Surrealist phase. The rise of the fascist leader Franco in Spain led to Dali's expulsion from the Surrealist movement, but that did not prevent him from painting.

Born Salvador Dalí on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain, located 16 miles from the French border in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. His father, Salvador Dalí y Cusi, was a middle class lawyer and notary. Salvador's father had a strict disciplinary approach to raising children—a style of child-rearing which contrasted sharply with that of his mother, Felipa Domenech Ferres. She often indulged young Salvador in his art and early eccentricities. It has been said that young Salvador was a precocious and intelligent child, prone to fits of anger against his parents and schoolmates. Consequently, Dalí was subjected to furious acts of cruelty by more dominant students or his father. The elder Salvador wouldn't tolerate his son's outbursts or eccentricities, and punished him severely. Their relationship deteriorated when Salvador was still young, exacerbated by competition between he and his father for Felipa's affection.

Dalí had an older brother, born nine months before him, also named Salvador, who died of gastroenteritis. Later in his life, Dalí often related the story that when he was five years old, his parents took him to the grave of his older brother and told him he was his brother's reincarnation. In the metaphysical prose he frequently used, Dalí recalled, "[we] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections." He "was probably a first version of myself, but conceived too much in the absolute."

Salvador, along with his younger sister Ana Maria and his parents, often spent time at their summer home in the coastal village of Cadaques. At an early age, young Salvador was producing highly sophisticated drawings, and both his parents strongly supported his artistic talent. It was here that his parents built him an art studio before he entered art school.

Upon recognizing his immense talent, Dalí's parents sent him to drawing school at the Colegio de Hermanos Maristas and the Instituto in Figueres, Spain in 1916. He was not a serious student, preferring to daydream in class and stand out as the class eccentric, wearing odd clothing and long hair. After that first year at art school, he discovered modern painting in Cadaques while vacationing with his family. There he also met Ramon Pichot, a local artist who frequently visited Paris. The next year, his father organized an exhibition of Salvador's charcoal drawings in the family home. By 1919, Dalí had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres.

In 1921, Salvador Dalí's mother, Felipa, died of breast cancer.

Dalí was 16, and her death devastated him. His father married his deceased wife's sister, which did not endear the younger Dalí any closer to his father, though he respected his aunt. The father and son would battle over many different issues throughout their lives, until the elder Dalí's death.

In 1922, Dalí enrolled in the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain, and stayed at the student residence. There he brought his eccentricity to a new level, wearing long hair and sideburns, and dressing in the style of English Aesthetes of the late 19th century. During his studies, he was influenced by several different artistic styles, including Metaphysics and Cubism, which earned him attention from his fellow students—even though he probably didn't understand the Cubist movement entirely. In 1923, Dalí was suspended from the Academy for criticizing his teachers and allegedly starting a riot among students over the Academy's choice of a professorship. That same year, he was arrested and briefly imprisoned in Gerona for allegedly supporting the Separatist movement, although Dalí was apolitical then and remained so throughout most of his life. He returned to the Academy in 1926, but was permanently expelled shortly before his final exams for declaring that no one on the faculty was competent enough to examine him.

While in school, Dalí began exploring many forms of art including classical painters like Raphael, Bronzino, and Valzquez (from whom he adopted his signature curled moustache). He also dabbled in the most avant-garde art movements such as Dada, a post World War I anti-establishment cultural movement. While Dalí's apolitical outlook on life prevented him from becoming a strict follower, the Dada philosophy influenced his work throughout his life.

In between 1926 and 1929, Dalí made several trips to Paris, and met with influential painters and intellectuals including Pablo Picasso, whom he revered. During this time, Dalí painted a number of works that displayed Picasso's influence. He also met Joan Miro, the Spanish painter and sculptor who, along with poet Paul Eluard and painter Rene Magritte, introduced Dalí to Surrealism. By this time, Dalí was working with Impressionism, Futurism, and Cubism. Dalí's paintings became associated with three general themes: depicting a measure of man's universe and his sensations; the use of collage; and objects charged with sexual symbolism, and ideographic imagery.

All this experimentation led to Dalí's first Surrealistic period in 1929. These oil paintings were small collages of his dream images. His work employed a meticulous classical technique, influenced by Renaissance artists, that contradicted the "unreal dream" space he created with strange hallucinatory characters. Even before this period of his art, Dalí was an avid reader of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theories. Dalí's major contribution to the Surrealist Movement was what he called the "paranoiac-critical method," a mental exercise of accessing the subconscious to enhance artistic creativity.

Dalí would use the method to create a reality from his dreams and subconscious thoughts, thus mentally changing reality to what he wanted it to be and not necessarily what it was. For Dalí, it became a way of life.

In 1929, Salvador Dalí expanded his artistic exploration into the world of film-making when he collaborated with Luis Buñuel on two films, Un Chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog), and in 1930, L'Age d'or (The Golden Age), which is well remembered for its opening scene of the simulated slashing of a human eye with a razor. Dalí's art appeared several years later in another film, the 1945 Alfred Hitchcock movie Spellbound, starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. Dalí's paintings were used in a dream sequence, and aided the plot by giving clues to solving the secret to character John Ballantine's psychological problems.

In August, 1929, Dalí met Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova (sometimes written as Elena Ivanorna Diakonova), a Russian immigrant, 10 years his senior. At the time, she was the wife of surrealist writer Paul Eluard. A strong mental and physical attraction developed between Dalí and Diakonova, and she soon left Eluard to spend her life with Dalí. Also known as Gala, she became Dalí's muse, inspiration, and eventually his wife. She helped balance, or one might say counterbalance, the creative forces in Dalí's life. With his wild expressions and fantasies, he was not capable of dealing with the business side of being an artist. Gala took care of his legal and financial matters, and negotiated contracts with dealers and exhibition promoters. They were married in a civil ceremony in 1934.

By 1930, Salvador Dalí had become a notorious figure in the Surrealist movement. Viscount and Viscountess Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles became his first patrons. French aristocrats, both husband and wife invested heavily in avant-garde art in the early 20th century. One of Dalí's most famous paintings produced at this time—and perhaps the best-known Surrealist work—was The Persistence of Memory (1931). The painting, sometimes called Soft Watches, shows melting pocket watches in a landscape setting. It is said that the painting conveys several ideas within the image, chiefly that time is not rigid and everything is destructible.

By the mid-1930s, Salvador Dalí had become as notorious for his colorful personality as for his artwork and, for some art critics, the former was overshadowing the latter. Often sporting an exaggeratedly long mustache,cape, and walking stick, Dalí's public appearances exhibited some unusual behavior. In 1934, art dealer Julian Levy introduced Dalí to America in a New York exhibition that caused quite a lot of controversy. At a ball held in his honor Dalí, in characteristic flamboyant style, appeared wearing a glass case across his chest which contained a brassiere.

As war approached in Europe, specifically in Spain, Salvador clashed with members of the Surrealist movement. In a "trial" held in 1934, he was expelled from the group.

He had quietly supported Spanish militant Francisco Franco, but it's unclear whether this was the reason for his expulsion. Officially, Dalí was notified that his expulsion was because he "had repeatedly been guilty of counter-revolutionary activity involving the celebration of fascism under Hitler." It is also very likely that many members of the movement were aghast at some of his public antics. However, some art historians believe the expulsion was driven more by his feud with the movement's leader Andre Breton. He continued to participate in several international Surrealist exhibitions into the 1940s. At the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936, he delivered a lecture titled, "Fantomes paranoiaques athentiques" (authentic paranoid ghosts). Dressed in a wetsuit, carrying a billiard cue and walking a pair of Russian wolfhounds, he later said his attire was a way for him to show that he was "plunging into the depths" of the human mind.

During the World War II, Dalí and his wife moved to the United States. They remained there until 1948, when they moved back to his beloved Catalonia. These were important years for Dalí. The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York gave him his own retrospective exhibit in 1941. This was followed by the publication of his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, in 1942. During the time he spent in the United States, Dalí moved away from Surrealism and into his classical period. The feud with members of the Surrealist movement continued, but Dalí seemed undaunted. His ever-expanding mind had ventured into new subjects.

Over the next 15 years, Dalí painted a series of 19 large canvases, concerning scientific, historical or religious themes. He often called this period "Nuclear Mysticism." During this period, his artwork took on a technical brilliance combining meticulous detail with fantastic and limitless imagination. He would incorporate optical illusions, holography, and geometry within his paintings. Many of his works contained images that depict divine geometry, the DNA, the Hyper Cube, and religious themes of Chastity.

From 1960 to 1974, Salvador Dalí dedicated much of his time to creating the Dalí Teatro Museo (Theater-Museum) in Figueres, Spain. The museum was the former Municipal Theater where Dalí had his public exhibition at the age of 14. The original 19th century structure was destroyed at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Officially opened in 1974 the new structure, formed from the ruins of the old, was based on Dalí's design. The museum is billed as the World's largest Surrealist structure, containing a series of spaces that form a single artistic object where each element is an inextricable part of the whole. The museum houses the broadest range of works by the artist from his earliest artistic experiences to works of the last years of this life. Several works on permanent display were created expressly for the museum.

The same year as the opening of the Dalí Museum in Spain, Salvador dissolved his business relationship with manager Peter Moore.

As a result, all rights to his collection were sold without his permission by other business managers resulting in Dalí losing much of his wealth. Two wealthy American art collectors, A. Reynolds Morse and his wife Eleanor, who had known Dalí since 1942, set up an organization called "Friends of Dalí" and a foundation to put the artist on a more secure financial footing. The organization also established the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In 1980, Dalí was forced to retire from painting due to a motor disorder that caused permanent trembling and weakness in his hands. He was not able to hold a paint brush, and lost the ability to express himself in the way he knew best. Then in 1982, his beloved wife and friend, Gala, died. The two events put him in a deep depression. He moved to Pubol, in a castle he had purchased and remodeled for Gala, possibly to hide from the public or, as some speculate, to die. In 1984, Dalí was severely burned in a fire, which confined him to a wheelchair. Friends, patrons, and fellow artists rescued him from the castle and returned him to Figueres, making him comfortable in his Teatro Museo.

In November 1988, Salvador Dalí entered the hospital with a failing heart. After a brief convalescence, he returned to the Teatro Museo. On January 23, 1989, he died of heart failure at the age of 84. He is buried in the theater-museum's crypt, bringing his life in the world of art full circle. The Teatro Museo was built on the site where he had his first art exhibit, across the street from the church of Sant Pere where he was baptized, received his first communion, and his funeral was held. It's also three blocks from the house where he was born. (Courtesy of

Biography from
Biography photo for Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali was born in May 11, 1904 in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Spain, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, only sixteen miles from the French border in the principality of Catalonia. The son of a prosperous notary, Salvador Dali spent his boyhood in Figueres and at the family's summer home in the coastal fishing village of Cadaques where his parents built his first studio.  As an adult, he made his home with his wife Gala in nearby Port Lligat.  Many of his paintings reflect his love of this area of Spain.

The young Salvador Dali attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid.  Early recognition of Salvador Dali's talent came with his first one-man show in Barcelona in 1925.  He became internationally known when three of his paintings, including The Basket of Bread (now in the Museum's collection), were shown in the third annual Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928.

The following year, Dalí held his first one-man show in Paris.  He also joined the surrealists, led by former Dadaist Andre Breton.  That year, Dali met Gala Eluard when she visited him in Cadaques with her husband, poet Paul Eluard.  She became Dalí's lover, muse, business manager, and chief inspiration.

Dalí soon became a leader of the surrealist movement.  His painting, The Persistance of Memory, with the soft or melting watches is still one of the best-known surrealist works.  But as the war approached, the apolitical Dalí clashed with the surrealists and was "expelled" from the surrealist group during a "trial" in 1934.  He did however, exhibit works in international surrealist exhibitions throughout the decade but by 1940, Dali was moving into a new style that eventually became known as his "classic" period, demonstrating a preoccupation with science and religion.

Dalí and Gala escaped from Europe during World War II, spending 1940-48 in the United States.  These were very important years for the artist.  The Museum of Modern Art in New York gave Dali his first major retrospective exhibit in 1941. This was followed in 1942 by the publication of Dali's autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.

As Dali moved away from Surrealism and into his classic period, he began his series of 19 large canvases, many concerning scientific, historical or religous themes. Among the best known of these works are The Hallucinogenic Toreador, and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in the museum's collection, and The Sacrament of the Last Supper in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

In 1974, Dalí opened the Teatro Museo in Figueres, Spain. This was followed by retrospectives in Paris and London at the end of the decade.  After the death of his wife, Gala, in 1982, Dali's health began to fail.  It deteriorated further after he was burned in a fire in his home in Pubol in 1984.  Two years later, a pace-maker was implanted.  Much of this part of his life was spent in seclusion, first in Pubol and later in his apartments at Torre Galatea, adjacent to the Teatro Museo.  Salvador Dalí died on January 23, 1989 in Figueres from heart failure with respiratory complications.

As an artist, Salvador Dalí was not limited to a particular style or media.  The body of his work, from early impressionist paintings through his transitional surrealist works, and into his classical period, reveals a constantly growing and evolving artist.  Dali worked in all media, leaving behind a wealth of oils, watercolors, drawings, graphics, and sculptures, jewels and objects of all descriptions.

Whether working from pure inspiration or on a commissioned illustration, Dalí's matchless insight and symbolic complexity are apparent. Above all, Dalí was a superb draftsman.  His excellence as a creative artist will always set a standard for the art of the twentieth century.

"Every morning when I wake up I experience an exquisite joy—the joy of being Salvador Dalí—and I ask myself in rapture, 'What wonderful things this Salvador Dalí is going to accomplish today?'" —Salvador Dalí.

Biography from MB Fine Art, LLC
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali was born May 11, 1904 in the small Spanish town of Figueras in the province of Catalunya. The name 'Salvador' had been given to an older brother who died in infancy. When Dali was born the name was passed on to him. No one could have known just how revolutionary and important this name would become to the art world. Growing up, Dali was a difficult child and refused to conform to family or community customs. Dali's father, a respected notary, his mother and younger sister all encouraged Dali's early interest in art. In fact, a room in the family home was the young artist's first studio. Early on, Dali's talent was already refined beyond his years, and with each year his talent only grew, as did his interests.

After receiving private art lessons in Figueras for some time, Dali enrolled at the Escuela de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid in 1921. There he joined an avant-garde circle of students that included film-maker Luis Bunuel and poet-dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca. Although Dali excelled in his academic pursuits, he never took final examinations, deeming that he had no need for the type of education offered by formal schooling. He was expelled and reinstated, yet it mattered little to him. Salvador Dali's passion for the arts and his need to experience life on his own terms could not be met within the confines of school. He left. This did not sit well with Dali's father however, and Salvador was subsequently disowned. With no true home left to him, Dali moved into a fisherman's shack in the small village of Port Lligat, two miles from Cadaques and not far from the French border. Port Lligat would become the site of Dali's future mansion home where he would spend many years of his life.

It was at this time that Dali came under the influence of two forces that shaped his philosophy and his art. The first was Sigmund Freud's theory of the unconscious, introduced to Dali in Freud's book The Interpretation of Dreams. The second was his association with the French surrealists, a group of artists and writers led by the French poet Andre Breton. When Dali visited Paris for the first time, he was introduced to the leading surrealists in the movement, but because of his lack of interest in politics, he was eventually shunned by this group.

It was also around this time that Dali met the woman who was to become one the most important people in his life... his wife and soul mate, Gala. Gala was a Russian girl Dali met following her marriage to the French poet Paul Eluard. She served as a stabilizing force through most of the remainder of Salvador Dali's life. Gala saved him from serious nervous disorientation and took charge of every aspect of his existence: financial, artistic and sexual. With Gala's help, Dali became established as a notable painter in Paris. During the 1930's his paintings were exhibited in surrealist shows in most major European cities and in the United States.

Under the influence of the surrealist movement, Dali's artistic style crystalized into the disturbing blend of precise realism and dreamlike fantasy that became his trademark. His paintings combined meticulous draftsmanship and detail with a unique and stimulating imagination. Dali often described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs,' and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax. Dali moved to the U.S. in 1940, where he remained until 1948. His later paintings, often on religious themes, are more classical in style. They include Crucifixion (1954, Metropolitan Museum, New York City) and The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Dali truly created a new movement in art, but it was his own unique brand. Along with his other pursuits in the art realm - which included jewelry design, film production and clothing -- it is his paintings and graphic works which remain the pinnacle of his sweeping importance and mystifying genius. To this day, they hang in museums all over the world.

Salvador Dali died January 23, 1989.

Biography from Acquisitions of Fine Art
Dalí, Salvador (1904-89): Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement. Throughout his life he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism (one of his most famous acts was appearing in a diving suit at the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936), claiming that this was the source of his creative energy. He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'.

According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life. His paintings employed a meticulous academic technique that was contradicted by the unreal `dream' space he depicted and by the strangely hallucinatory characters of his imagery. He described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs' and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax (The Persistence of Memory, MOMA, New York; 1931).

In 1937 Dalí visited Italy and adopted a more traditional style; this together with his political views (he was a supporter of General Franco) led Breton to expel him from the Surrealist ranks. He moved to the USA in 1940 and remained there until 1955. During this time he devoted himself largely to self-publicity; his paintings were often on religious themes (The Crucifixion of St John of the Cross, Glasgow Art Gallery, 1951), although sexual subjects and pictures centering on his wife Gala were also continuing preoccupations. In 1955 he returned to Spain and in old age became a recluse.

Apart from painting, Dalí's output included sculpture, book illustration, jewellery design, and work for the theatre. In collaboration with the director Luis Buñuel he also made the first Surrealist films---Un chien andalou (1929) and L'Age d'or (1930)---and he contributed a dream sequence to Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945). He also wrote a novel, Hidden Faces (1944) and several volumes of flamboyant autobiography. Although he is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, his status is controversial; many critics consider that he did little if anything of consequence after his classic Surrealist works of the 1930s. There are museums devoted to Dalí's work in Figueras, his home town in Spain, and in St Petersburg in Florida.

1904: Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí was born on May, 11th in Figueras, Catalonia, Spain.

1917: He started to visit the School of Art. First paintings.

1918: First small exhibition in the Theatre.

1921-25: Went to Academy of Arts in Madrid. Conflicts with his teachers.

1925: First stand-alone exibition of Dalí at the Galery of Dalmau.

1926-28: Early explorations of the Surrealism. Dalí in Cadaqués 1927

1929: Gala went into his life. Joined the group of Surrealists in 1930 Gala 1927, and Dalí 1929

1934-37: Dalí had his paranoid-critic-epoch. Dalí and Gala in 1937

1941-44: "Avida Dollars" in America.

1945-49: Dalí the Classic. Dalí and his Daddy in Cadaqués 1948

1950-65: His mystic period. He wrote several books (The secret life of Salvador Dalí).

1963-78: Dalí the Divine - Dalí and the Science.

1979-83: Theory of Disaster.

1982: Gala died.

1989: Dalí, Jan. 23th, died.

Biography from Robin Rile Fine Art
Biography photo for Salvador Dali
In the early 1940s Dalí's artistic style shifted from Surrealism to a more traditional approach based on Classical and Renaissance art.  As he famously stated, "to be a Surrealist forever is like spending your life painting nothing but eyes and noses."  Whereas Dalí's previous works had been based on his interest in dreams and the subconscious, he now began to draw inspiration from historical and religious sources, appropriating traditional motifs and creating a daring and innovative visual vocabulary. 

Obsessed with the image of the Venus de Milo, which he had viewed in the Louvre, Dalí reinterpreted the classic image with a familiar passion for visual experiment and in doing so created one of his most famous and recognizable motifs.  Dalí has imbued the serene and sensuously feminine Venus with a new sense of character and presence, interrupting the smooth and diaphanous drapery with cube-like drawers set into the shape of her torso.  Two versions of this subject were executed in plaster.  Dalí intended to include the bronze versions in his important 1964 retrospective in Tokyo at the Seibu Museum, but there was not enough time to cast them and only the plasters were exhibited.  It was not until 1981 that the artist again attempted to cast the present work in bronze, but his frail health again delayed the process and they were eventually cast in 1988.

Biography from
Salvador Dali was born as the son of a prestigious notary in the small town of Figuera in Northern Spain.  His talent as an artist showed at an early age.  His art teachers were a then well known Spanish impressionist painter, Ramon Pichot and later an art professor at the Municipal Drawing School.

In 1923 his father bought his son his first printing press.  Dali began to study art at the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid.  He was expelled twice and never took the final examinations.  His opinion was that he was more qualified than those who should have examined him.

As an artist, Salvador Dalí was not limited to a particular style or media.  The body of his work, from early impressionist paintings through his transitional surrealist works, and into his classical period, reveals a constantly growing and evolving artist.

Dalí worked in all media, leaving behind oils, watercolors, drawings, graphics, and sculptures, jewels and objects of all descriptions. 

Biography from CRS Consulting
Biography photo for Salvador Dali
Born in Figueres, Spain in 1904, Salvador Dali is known for his technical skill as a painter and the shocking quality of his imagination. His pioneering spirit was also accompanied by a reverence of tradition and a will for continuity.

Dali consistently depicted the landscape of his homeland, one that became synonymous with the landscape of the imagination and of dreams. He forged in his long career a remarkable body of work, and his life demonstrates the richness of living creatively in every aspect of one's existence.

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About  Salvador Dali

Born:  1904 - Figueras, Spain
Died:   1989 - Figueras, Spain
Known for:  surrealist painting, drawing, photography, sculpture