- NAME: Salvador Dalí
- OCCUPATION: Painter
- BIRTH DATE: May 11, 1904
- DEATH DATE: January 23, 1989
- Did You Know?: The Teatro-Museo Dalí is billed as the world's largest Surrealist structure.
- Did You Know?: The Teatro-Museo Dalí is the former site where Dalí had his first public exhibit. The church where he was baptized and later buried is located across the street, and he grew up three blocks away.
- EDUCATION: Academia de San Fernando, Colegio de Hermanos Maristas and the Instituto
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Figueres, Spain
- PLACE OF DEATH: Figueres, Spain
- Full Name: Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech
- AKA: Salvador Dalí
Best Known For
Spanish artist and Surrealist icon Salvador Dalí is perhaps best known for his painting of melting clocks, The Persistence of Memory.
Salvador Dali - Meeting Gala (3:36)
While in Paris, Salvador Dali took part in the surreal movement of the time and met Gala, the woman who inspired his surreal paintings.
Salvador Dali was given the same name as his brother after his brother's death, leading to Dali having identity crisis issues that followed him for years after childhood.
In the 1960s, Salvador Dali was seen as an artistic icon and lived the life to back it up. Although he made millions for his sought after paintings, Dali spent millions to maintain his extravagant lifestyle.
The bizarre and private life of Salvador Dali and his wife Gala Dali inspired the artwork in several of his paintings.
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His work employed a meticulous classical technique, influenced by Renaissance artists, that contradicted the "unreal dream" space that he created with strange hallucinatory characters. Even before this period, 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 L'Age d'or (The Golden Age, 1930), the latter of which is known for its opening scene—a simulated slashing of a human eye by a razor. Dalí's art appeared several years later in another film, Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. Dalí's paintings were used in a dream sequence in the film, 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 Éluard. A strong mental and physical attraction developed between Dalí and Diakonova, and she soon left Éluard for her new lover. Also known as "Gala," Diakonova was Dalí's muse and inspiration, and would eventually become his wife. She helped balance—or one might say counterbalance—the creative forces in Dalí's life. With his wild expressions and fantasies, he wasn't 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. The two were married in a civil ceremony in 1934.
By 1930, Salvador Dalí had become a notorious figure of the Surrealist movement. Marie-Laure de Noailles and Viscount and Viscountess Charles were 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 his artwork, and, for some art critics, the former was overshadowing the latter. Often sporting an exaggeratedly long mustache, a cape and a walking stick, Dalí's public appearances exhibited some unusual behavior.
Included In These Groups
From the surrealist melting watches of Salvador Dalí to the edgy graffiti-inspired canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat, famous Hispanic artists have used their rich imaginations to capture the world’s collective eye. Legendary painters such as cubist Pablo Picasso, self-portrait master and feminist icon Frida Kahlo and revolutionary muralist Diego Rivera, made strong political and personal statements with their work that both defied definition and created new ones. Learn more about these renowned Hispanic painters, sculptors and illustrators, from their early days, to their struggle for acceptance in the art world, to their arrival at legendary status and more. See all the artists.
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