Salvador Dalí: 8:45 May 11,1904-Jan.23,1989...Spain
"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce
nothing." ~Salvador Dalí
The most famous surrealist
was and remains to be Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí. Although he was known as an odd Spanish surrealist
painter, he also worked as a film maker, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. "At the age of six I
wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since." His personality
caused a lot of controversy over the years, which was usually brought on by himself. He was a huge self-promoter. He was born
as the son of a prestigious notary in the small town of Figuera, Spain. He, like most Spanish artists of the time, greatly
admired Diego Velázquez. "Compared to Velázquez, I am nothing. But compared to contemporaty painters, I am the most big
genius of modern time." His first art teacher was Ramon Pichot, who was a known impressionist and art professor. Eventually, Dalí went on to the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid,
Spain. He was expelled twice and never took the final examinations. His opinion was that he was more qualified than those
who should have examined him.
It was at this time, 1929, which Dalí went to live and work in Paris,
France. There he met several artists including Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. The leader of the surrealists was Andre Breton, and Dalí became affiliated with the group, but was eventually shunned by Breton for
being a fascist, self-promoter who only wanted money (although Dalí is described as a self-promoter who also "sold out" for
the almighty dollar). He would alter his approach to surrealism to be based upon the theories of the psychologist Dr. Sigmund
Freud. Using reoccurring dreams as a primary subject, for example the burning giraffes and melting watches, Dalí develops what is now a surrealist trademark.
He also used many religious symbols in his work (he was a very dedicated Christian).
Art came in all forms. With Luis Buñuel, Dalí made the first Surrealist
films; Un chien andalou (An Andalutian Dog) in 1929 and L'Age d'or (The Golden Age) in 1930. He
developed a dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound (1945) and the following year
he “brainstormed” several sequences for a full length animated feature, Destino, with Walt Disney. Although the
movie as never made, some of the ideas were used in film Fantasia. Dalí wrote the novel Hidden Faces and then several autobiographies. His most recognized work is Persistance of Memory that was painted in 1931. In
this work he uses the typical baron landscape with the symbols of the watch, water, crutch, and ants. Many art historians
and scholars feel that he did nothing of relevance after his surrealist climax in the 1930’s. I feel that it is indisputable
that he was largely an original and he has a technical ability that was incredible.
In Paris he met Gala. She was a Russian immigrant and
ten years older than Dali. She was married, but chose to leave her husband for Dalí. His fame was also rising at this time.
To escape World War II, moved to America in 1940, where the lived in Virginia, California and New York. He moved back to Europe
in 1948, dividing his time between Port Lligat, Spain and Paris, France. He is the only living artist that ever had two museums
exclusively dedicated to their artworks. He has the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Dali Museum-Theater in
Figueres, Spain. He stopped working in 1980 due to a motor disorder that resulted in constant trembling and hand weakness.
In 1984 he was severely burned in a house fire. In 1986, due to heart problems, he received a pacemaker. At the end of his
life he lived in the tower of his own museum in Figueres, where he died of heart failure. He is interred in a crypt at the
lower level of the Museum.