Salvador Dali, 1904-1989

Salvador Dali was born in Figueras, Spain (Catalonia), where he also died. He studied painting in Madrid between 1920 and 1925, where he ac­quired the academic proficiency char­acteristic of his work.

As a young man, Dali read the work of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Alerted to the subtleties of the subconscious, he set out to transcribe them into what he called his “metaphysical painting.” Dreams and their interpretation increasingly came to dominate his work.

In 1928, Dali met Picasso and the Surrealist writer Andre Breton, and as a result joined the Surrealist movement, rapidly becoming one of its most conspicuous members. In the following years, he met Gala Eluaid, his future muse (whom he married in a solemn religious ceremony in 1958), as well as Giorgio De Chirico and Max Ernst, both of whom had a last­ing impact on his work.

Blessed with a genius for self- promotion, Dali devised a public per­sona for himself that was mystical and intriguing. He made eroticism, scatology, scandal, humor, and provocation his stock in trade, incorporating them into both his life and his work. The resulting compositions, for example, his famous vision of melting watches in a desolate dream landscape, are often surprising. Dali frequently de­picted the seashore of his youth be­hind strange hallucinations in which, for example, shells become eyes and a mountain seems to change into the head of a dog. Playing on the magic of associations, these inventions, ren­dered in technique of great precision and high finish, insist on the multiple hidden meanings of things.

Dali also applied his gifts to movie ­making. He collaborated with Luis Bunuel on An Andalusian Dog (1928) and The Golden Age (1930), and he also designed a dream sequence for Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945).

During the 1930s, Dalis indifference to politics caused a growing rift with Breton and the other Surrealists, and his flippant 1937 series of paintings “celebrating” Adolf Hitler brought about his outright expulsion from the movement. After this, Dali astonishingly reverted to a more classical style of painting, exploring traditional imagery and producing such works as the extraordinarily foreshortened Christ of St. John of the Cross (1951) and the vision­ary Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955).

Like many European artists, Dali spent the Second World War in the United States, where he cultivated a high-society clientele, had a retro­spective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1941-42), and published a sensational autobiogra­phy, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (1942). In 1948 he returned to his native Catalonia, where he resided until his death, although he was a frequent visitor in New York into the 1980s.

To the end of his life, Dali contin­ued to cultivate a provocative, living- myth persona, openly declaring his love for authority and money. On oc­casion he styled himself “Avida Dol­lars” (an anagram of his name), and he often proclaimed himself the last surviving historical Surrealist.

This article is courtesy of ‘The beginners guide to Art’ , translated from French by John Goodman, edited by Brigitte Govignon.The article was brought to you by Blue Horizon Printing ,experts in premium quality canvas prints at affordable prices.

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