Happy birthday Salvador Dali!

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Salvador Dalí (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) was a Surrealist Catalán painter, recognized for his flamboyant appearance and personality. He was a key member in the 20th century Surrealist movement, creating alongside the likes of Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel, Joan Miró, and many others.

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Dalí was born Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech in the town of Figueres, in Catalonia, Spain. His parents were Salvador Dalí i Cusí and Felipa Domenech Ferrés. As a child, he attended drawing school and had exposure to modern painting on family trips to Cadaqués. His father organized an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their home, and by 1919 he had his first public exhibition in Figueres. His mother died when Dalí was just 16, an event that would affect him the rest of his life. His father remarried his mother's sister.

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Dalí attended La Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and lived in the student residence halls. This is where he met Pepín Bello, Luis Buñuel, and Federico García Lorca. During this time, he experimented with Cubism and Dadaism.

In 1926, he was expelled from the school for starting unrest and made his first trip to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso. Picasso already knew of Dalí through reports from fellow Catalán artist Joan Miró.

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Dalí met his lifelong muse and future wife, Gala, in 1929. She was a Russian immigrant who ended up taking care of the business side of his art, dealing with financial matters and organizing exhibitions. His father disapproved of his companion and of his alignment with the Surrealists. They had a dramatic falling out, but eventually reconciled.

Salvador and Gala

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Dalí was a pioneer of what he called the "paranoic-critical method," in which he accessed the subconscious to deepen creativity.

He also collaborated with filmmaker Luis Buñuel in 1929 on the films Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog),

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and later in 1930, L'Age d'or (The Golden Age).

 

 

By 1930, Dalí was a well-known presence in the Surrealist movement. He created The Persistence of Memory in 1931, sometimes known as Soft Watches.

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As war approached in Spain, he was expelled from the Surrealist group, possibly because of his quiet support of fascist dictator Francisco Fanco. When the war took hold, Dalí and his wife moved to the United States. During this time, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art gave him a retrospective. They moved back to Catalonia in 1948.

He spent the next 15 years painting 19 large canvases, a period he would later call "Nuclear Mysticism." His work of this time dealt with themes of science, history, and religion.

 

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Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man by Salvador Dali, Image source

Following those years, Dalí spent time developing the Dalí Teatro Museo (Theater-Museum) in Figueres, the same site he had had his first public exhibition at the age of 14. The museum opened in 1974. Financial troubles followed due to the dissolution of an important business relationship.

His final years were ones of depression, as his beloved Gala had died before him and because of a motor disorder that stripped him of his ability to paint.

Dalí produced over 1,500 paintings in his career. He remained a Surrealist throughout his life, despite the tenuousness of his relationships with his Surrealist contemporaries.

Selected works

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Dream Caused By the Flight of A Bee Around A Pomegranate A Sercond Before Awakening

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Swans Reflecting Elephants

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The Great Masturbator 

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The Burning Giraffe

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Christ of Saint John of the Cross

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The Elephants

 

Dali on 'What's My Line?'

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 11 May 2014
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