Best Known For
Salvador Dali is best known for his long surrealist painting career.
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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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.
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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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