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Monday, 13 September 2010 15:01

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(1904 - 1989)
Nationality: Spanish
Movement: Surrealism

"To be a surrealist forever is like spending your life painting nothing but eyes and noses." - Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali is considered as the greatest artist of the surrealist art movement.

Salvador Dali was born as the son of a prestigious notary in the small town of Figuera in Northern Spain. His talent as an artist showed at an early age and Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali received his first drawing lessons when he was ten years old. His art teachers were a then well known Spanish impressionist painter, Ramon Pichot and later an art professor at the Municipal Drawing School. In 1923 his father bought his son his first printing press. Dali began to study art at the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid. 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.

Throughout his life he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism (one of his most famous acts was appearing in a diving suit at the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936), claiming that this was the source of his creative energy. He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life. His paintings employed a meticulous academic technique that was contradicted by the unreal `dream' space he depicted and by the strangely hallucinatory characters of his imagery. He described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs' and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax (The Persistence of Memory, MOMA, New York; 1931).

In 1928 Dali went to Paris where he met the Spanish painters Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. He established himself as the principal figure of a group of surrealist artists grouped around Andre Breton, who was something like the theoretical "schoolmaster" of surrealism. Years later Breton turned away from Dali accusing him of support of fascism, excessive self-presentation and financial greediness.

By 1929 Dali had found his personal style that should make him famous - the world of the unconscious that is recalled during our dreams. The surrealist theory is based on the theories of the psychologist Dr. Sigmund Freud. Recurring images of burning giraffes and melting watches became the artist's surrealist trademarks. His great craftsmanship allowed him to execute his paintings in a nearly photorealistic style.

Meeting Gala was the most important event in the artist's life and decisive for his future career. She was a Russian immigrant and ten years older than Dali. When he met her, she was married to Paul Eluard. Gala decided to stay with Dali. She became his companion, his muse, his sexual partner, his model in numerous art works and his business manager. For him she was everything. Most of all Gala was a stabilizing factor in his life. And she managed his success in the 1930s with exhibitions in Europe and the United States. Gala was legally divorced from her husband in 1932. In 1934 Dali and Gala were married in a civil ceremony in Paris and in 1958 in church after Gala's former husband had died in 1952. However from around 1965 on, the couple was seen less frequently together. But Gala continued to manage Dali's business affairs.

In 1958 the artist began his series of large sized history paintings. He painted one monumental painting every year during the summer months in Lligat. The most famous one, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, can be seen at the Dali Museum in St.Petersburg in Florida.

Death in His Own Museum Salvador Dali is the only known artist who had two museums dedicated exclusively to his works at lifetime.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg in Florida/U.S.A. was founded in 1971 by the Dali collector A. Reynolds Morse and his wife Eleanor. The collection was first exhibited in a building adjacent to their home in Cleveland/Ohio. In 1982, the museum was moved to St. Petersburg in Florida. It hosts 95 oil paintings including six of Dali's eighteen large-sized historical paintings. Dali Museum-Theater in Figueres, Spain. The Museum was the former Municipal Theater of Figueres. In 1918, when Salvador Dali was only fourteen years old, it had shown his first public exhibition. Since 1970 the artist had dedicated his energy to transform the former Municipal Theater into a museum and art gallery. In 1974 the Theatro Museo Dali was officially opened.

In 1980 Dali was forced to retire due to palsy, a motor disorder, that caused a permanent trembling and weakness of his hands. He was not able to hold a brush any more. The fact that he could not follow his vocation and passion of painting and the news of Gala's death in 1982 left him with deep depressions. After Gala's death he moved to Pubol, a castle, he had bought and decorated for Gala. In 1984, when he was lying in bed, a fire broke out and he suffered severe burns. Towards the end of his life, Dali lived in the tower of his own museum where he died on January 23, 1989 from heart failure.

Selected works:

1910 Landscape Near Figueras

1913 Vilabertin

1916 Fiesta in Figueras (begun 1914)

1917 View of Cadaqu?s with Shadow of Mount Pani

1918 Crepuscular Old Man (begun 1917)

1919 Port of Cadaqu?s (Night) (begun 1918) and Self-portrait in the Studio

1920 The Artist's Father at Llane Beach and View of Portdogu? (Port Aluger)

1921 The Garden of Llaner (Cadaqu?s) (begun 1920) and Self-portrait

1922 Cabaret Scene and Night Walking Dreams

1923 Self Portrait with L'Humanite and Cubist Self Portrait with La Publicitat

1924 Still Life (Syphon and Bottle of Rum) (for Garc?a Lorca) and Portrait of Luis Bu?uel

1925 Large Harlequin and Small Bottle of Rum and a series of fine portraits of his sister Anna Maria, most notably Figure at a Window

1926 The Basket of Bread and Girl from Figueres

1927 Composition with Three Figures (Neo-Cubist Academy) and Honey is Sweeter than Blood (his first important surrealist work)

1929 Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog) film in collaboration with Luis Bu?uel, The Lugubrious Game, The Great Masturbator, The First Days of Spring, and The Profanation of the Host

1930 L'?ge d'Or (The Golden Age) film in collaboration with Luis Bu?uel

1931 The Persistence of Memory (his most famous work, featuring the "melting clocks"), The Old Age of William Tell, and William Tell and Gradiva

1932 The Spectre of Sex Appeal, The Birth of Liquid Desires, Anthropomorphic Bread, and Fried Eggs on the Plate without the Plate. The Invisible Man (begun 1929) completed (although not to Dal?'s own satisfaction)

1933 Retrospective Bust of a Woman (mixed media sculpture collage) and Portrait of Gala With Two Lamb Chops Balanced on Her Shoulder, Gala in the Window

1934 The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table and A Sense of Speed

1935 Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's Angelus and The Face of Mae West

1936 Autumn Cannibalism, Lobster Telephone, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) and two works titled Morphological Echo (the first of which began in 1934)

1937 Metamorphosis of Narcissus, Swans Reflecting Elephants, The Burning Giraffe, Sleep, The Enigma of Hitler, Mae West Lips Sofa and Cannibalism in Autumn

1938 The Sublime Moment and Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach

1939 Shirley Temple, The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of the Cinema in Her Time

1940 The Slave Market with Disappearing Bust of Voltaire, The Face of War

1941 Honey is Sweeter than Blood

1943 The Poetry of America and Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man

1944 Galarina and Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

194448 Hidden Faces, a novel

1945, Basket of BreadRather Death than Shame and Fountain of Milk Flowing Uselessly on Three Shoes; also this year, Dal? collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on a dream sequence to the film Spellbound, to mutual dissatisfaction

-height: normal;">1946 The Temptation of St. Anthony

1948 Les Elephants

1949 Leda Atomica and The Madonna of Port Lligat. Dal? returned to Catalonia this year

1951 Christ of St. John of the Cross and Exploding Raphaelesque Head

1952 Galatea of the Spheres

1954 The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (begun in 1952), Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) and Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized by the Horns of Her Own Chastity

1955 The Sacrament of the Last Supper, Lonesome Echo, record album cover for Jackie Gleason

1956 Still Life Moving Fast, Rinoceronte vestido con puntillas

1957 Santiago el Grande oil on canvas on permanent display at Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, NB, Canada

1958 The Rose

1959 The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus

1960 Composici?n Num?rica (de fond pr?paratoire inachev?)

1960 Dal? began work on the Teatro-Museo Gala Salvador Dal? and Portrait of Juan de Pareja, the Assistant to Vel?zquez

1965 Dal? donates a gouache, ink and pencil drawing of the Crucifixion to the Rikers Island jail in New York City. The drawing hung in the inmate dining room from 1965 to 1981[79]

1965 Dal? in New York

1967 Tuna Fishing

1969 Chupa Chups logo

1969 - Improvisation on a Sunday Afternoon, television collaboration with the rock group Nirvana

1970 The Hallucinogenic Toreador, acquired in 1969 by A. Reynolds Morse & Eleanor R. Morse before it was completed

1972 La Toile Daligram, Helena Devulina Diakanoff - dit., GALA

1973 "Le Diners De Gala", an ornately illustrated cook book

1976 Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea

1977 Dal?'s Hand Drawing Back the Golden Fleece in the Form of a Cloud to Show Gala Completely Nude, Very Far Away Behind the Sun (stereoscopical pair of paintings)

1983 Dal? completes his final painting, The Swallow's Tail

2003 Destino, an animated cartoon originally a collaboration between Dal? and Walt Disney, is released. Production on Destino began in 1945

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Last Updated on Friday, 24 September 2010 13:27