Salvador Dali May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989
Easily identifiable by his signature handlebar mustache, eccentric and quirky Salvador Dali was most famous for his dreamlike paintings and his unpredictably flamboyant behavior. Dali was born in Figueres, Spain, just off the Mediterranean coast and 140 km northeast of Barcelona. His parents, Salvador Dali i Cusi and Felipa Domenech Ferros, recognized their son‚Äôs artistic potential at a young age and enrolled him in drawing school in 1916.
Early on in Dali’s life, two events occurred that are said to have immensely impacted the young prodigy psyche. When he was only six years old, his mother and father brought Salvador to visit his older brothers grave, and told him that he was the reincarnation of his deceased sibling. The older brother had passed away nine months before Salvador Dal√≠ was born; both shared the same name. Then, at the age of sixteen, his mother tragically lost her battle with cancer.
Not only was Dali revered for his masterful painting skills, but he also created sculptures, filmed two short movies with Luis Butel, designed a few architectural structures and even dabbled in fashion photography. His wife (Gala or Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) was a source of inspiration for many of his works, and she was known as being the more grounded one of the two.
Interesting Facts about Salvador Dali
- It was during the early 1920s, while studying at Academia de San Fernando in Madrid (School of Fine Arts), that Dali began sporting a shoestring-thin stache, which he waxed and twisted to point upward and out. The idea for this stylistic statement came from 17th-century painter Diego Velzquez’s mustache.
- Dali was kicked out of Academia de San Fernando when he proclaimed that no one in the school‚Äôs faculty was qualified to evaluate his work, during the schools final exams.
- Many Surrealist Group members in Paris enthusiastically followed Sigmund Freuds dream interpretation research during the 1930s and Dal√≠ did as well. The two met to discuss their work, and although Freud had previously stated that he thought all Surrealists were crazy, he decided Dal√≠ was the exception to this belief.
- In 1934, Dal√≠ was booted from the Surrealist Group for supporting political beliefs the other members disapproved of. Seemingly unaffected by the incident, he sneered, “I myself am surrealism”.
- The artist cleverly avoided payment of his restaurant tabs by doodling pictures on the backs of his checks. Most establishments would’nt dare let go of a Dali sketch by cashing one of these.
- If asked for an autograph, Dali would sign his name and steal the fans pen.
Salvador Dali’s Most Famous Works
The Persistance of Memory (1931) is not only one of Dali’s most recognizable oil paintings but it is also the piece of art most commonly associated with the Surrealism Movement. Melting clocks and an abstract self portrait are set within a desert-scape, portraying a dreamlike world.
Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog 1929) is a 16 minute, silent movie that Salvador Dal√≠ and Luis Bu√±uel created together. It was based on two dreams each artist recalled prior to the filming. Dali’s had been about ants and a lone hand on the crawl (an image of The Addams Family ‚ÄúThing‚Äù comes to mind) and Bu√±uel‚Äôs had been about a cloud slicing the moon in half. (Open a link to IMDB‚Äôs movie trailer by clicking on Bu√±uel‚Äôs photo. Warning, view with caution; the clip has a gruesome/graphic scene.)
The Figueres Teatre-Museu Dal√≠ (Dal√≠ Theatre-Museum 1974) is based in Dali’s home town. It boasts the worlds largest surrealistic statement, which holds the most extensive collection of the artist‚Äôs works. The locations original 19th century building was almost completely destroyed in 1939, during the Spanish Civil War. Dali designed the new theatre using the historic structure‚Äôs remaining shell and created the whimsical architecture that stands today. (Click on the image to visit the official Dal√≠ Theatre-Museum page.)
Book flights to Barcelona today and set off on an art tour of northern Spain. Let Dali, Picasso and Gaud√≠‚Äôs ingenious works grab hold of your imagination.