Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalì developed visual surrealism together with Magritte. But being more talented, successful and commercial than the others, Dalì was eventually expelled from the surrealist group.


Born: 1904, May 11, Figueres, Catalonia, Spain
Died: 1989, January 23, Figueres, Catalonia, Spain

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí is the most famous of the surrealist painters. But to begin with, the surrealists did not include painters in their group. Surrealism was a cultural movement that began in 1920 with its center in Paris. The group would meet in cafes and discuss psychology and social revolution. But later, visual arts played an important role in delivering the surrealist message to the public. Salvador Dalí, being an accomplished painter with an eccentric personality and a genius for marketing himself, became a foreground figure of the surrealist movement.

Dalí showed talent for drawing and painting at a very early age, as can be seen from his Landscape Near Figueras from 1910. At the age of 18, he began his studies at Academia de San Fernando (School of Fine Arts) in Madrid. He was well known among his fellow students for his eccentric behaviour and dandy like manners, but even more so for his paintings; he was very gifted. In 1926 he was expelled from the school just before his final examination, after proclaiming that none of the professors were qualified to examine him. In his work, Salvador Dalí was influenced by Raphael and Velázquez among others. Diego Velázquez inspired him to grow his his famous moustache, which became his trademark. During a few years, Dalí was noticeably influenced by Picasso and Miró (Dalí and Picasso met in Paris in 1926). The cubist influence can be seen in Dalí's paintingCabaret Scene from 1922 for example.

In 1929 Dalí joined the surrealists, and together with Magritte he rapidly developed the visual surrealist style. This was also the year he met his wife and muse, Gala. From this time is Dalí's most famous painting, The Persistence of Memory (1931), which displays a landscape containing melting watches. Liquid shapes were often used by Dalí in his paintings, as were images of elephants and other animals. Images of the egg also played an important role.

Psychology was of the utmost significance to the surrealists.They were heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud, but did not admit to Freud's description of the dark side of human nature. Dalí said: "There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad."

Salvador Dalí accomplished a lot of things outside of painting. He participated in making films, the most famous one being The Andalusian Dogthat he created together with Bunuel in 1929. He worked with Hitchcock, Disney and photographer Man Ray. He designed jewelery and sceneries for the theatre as well as making endeavours in the world of fashion and many other areas. Some well known examples of his work are The Lobster Telephone, Mae West Lips Sofa and the logo for Chupa Chups. He often managed to create scandals, thus contributing to the mystic aura surrounding his person.

In 1934, at the age of 30, Salvador Dalí was expelled from the Surrealist group. They were outraged by his refusal to take a political stand against fascism and by the commercialization of Dalí's work. Dalí said to this: "I myself am surrealism." Another citation by Dalí on this matter is: "The only difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a surrealist."

Dalí published his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, in 1942. It was a description of his life and work thus far and it received both praise and critisism. The book contains many accounts of his high opinion of himself, as well as colorful descriptions of his odd character.

The Dalí Theatre and Museum in his home town Figueres houses the single largest collection of Dalí's work. He started working on the museum in 1960, and it was opened in 1974. The museum is a testament to the fantastic imagination of Salvador Dalí. In the basement of the museum lies Dalí's crypt engraved with his title Marquis of Púbol, bestowed upon him by King Juan Carlos in 1982.

"Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí."
Salvador Dalí

Work by Dalí > click here 

Landscape Near Figueras (1910)

Fiesta in Figueras (1914-1916)

Cabaret Scene (1922)

The Basket of Bread (1926)

Girl from Figueres (1926)

The Persistence of Memory (1931)

The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table (1934)

Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937)

Swans Reflecting Elephants (1937)

The Burning Giraffe (1937)

Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach (1938)

The Face of War (1940)

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944)

Basket of Bread—Rather Death than Shame (1945)

Leda Atomica (1949)

The Madonna of Port Lligat (1949)

Christ of St. John of the Cross (1951)

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1952-1954)

Crucifixion (1954)

Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized by the Horns of Her Own Chastity (1954)

Still Life Moving Fast (1956)

The Swallow's Tail (1983)

Return from Salvador Dalí to Famous Artists

Return from Salvador Dalí to Art History Timeline