Salvador Dali is known as one of the big giants of Surrealism, but personally in my opinion, I think artists like Tanguy and Magritte are better, but that’s my personal opinion.
Salvador Dali was born in Figueres Spain in 1904 to middle class lawyer and mother who doted on him. Dali had an older brother that died nine months before Dali was born. When Dali was five his parents took him to his brothers grave and told him he was his brother incarnate. Dali also had a younger sister named Ana Maria. Dali’s parents were very supportive of his artistic talent and sent him to art school in 1916. Dali was not serious about his school and preferred to spend his days daydreaming and being eccentric. In 1919 Dali had his first exhibition but unfortunately three years later Dali’s mother died of breast cancer. This was a great blow to Dali who was very close to his mother.
After his mother’s death Dali enrolled in Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. During this time Dali was influenced by several artistic styles including Metaphysics and Cubism. If his eccentric style didn’t draw attention to him then his artistic style most certainly did. He was suspended in 1923 for criticizing the teachers and though he returned he was permanently expelled in 1926 for saying that none of the teachers were competent enough to teach him. Dali went to Paris after his expulsion and met artist Pablo Picasso, whom he always revered. Even though Dali is considered a Surrealist he was heavily influenced by the classical style and the modern style.
Once in Paris Dali joined the surrealist movement and collaborated with surrealist film director Luis Buñuel on the film Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog). I actually watched clips from this film in my art history class and I found it on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. I warn you it is strange and there is some nudity. Un chien andalou , I tried to embed it but the embedding abilities were disabled by request so you have to follow the link to watch the film. It’s only 20 some minutes and you really don’t have to watch it all if you don’t feel like it. Also I would advise against watching other surrealist films on Youtube. This next week I am going to do some digging into the Surrealist film world so wait until next week.
It was around this time that Dali met his future wife Gala who was married to surrealist poet Paul Éluard. His relationship with Gala caused Dali’s father to disinherit him. Dali moved with Gala to a small house near the sea in Lligat. In 1931 Dali painted his most famous painting The Persistence of Memory. Gala and Dali married in 1934. Dali never lost his eccentric nature which may have led to his expulsion from the Surrealist group in 1934. The surrealist group claimed it was because of Dali’s politics most specifically his supposed fascist support of Hitler. As world war II started Gala and Dali moved to the United States where they settled down for eight years. During this time Dali wrote books including his autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.
Dali returned to Catalonia in 1949 and spent the rest of his life dabbling in illusions, writing, holography, religion, film, and television. These new interests showed themselves in his paintings but it only lasted until 1980 when Dali’s health took a turn for the worse. His wife Gala was nearing her own death and it deeply depressed Dali. After her death in 1982 Dali lost the will to live. A fire broke out in his home in 1984 and his friends took him in to prevent himself from committing suicide. Dali entered into the hospital with heart failure in 1988 and died in December.
Persistence of Memory 1931
The Face of War 1941
Swans Reflecting Elephants, 1937
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, 1936