Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres close to the French border in Catalonia, Spain. Dalí’s older brother, also named Salvador (born October 12, 1901), had died of gastroenteritis nine months earlier. When Dalí was five, his parents took him to his brother’s grave and told that he was his brother’s reincarnation. And Dalí belived in that concept. Of his brother, Dalí said, “…[we] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.” Dalí also had a sister, Ana María, who was three years younger. When Dalí was sixteen years old his mother died of breast cancer. After mother’s death his father, Salvador Dalí i Cusí, who was a middle-class lawyer and notary, married again with his deceased wife’s sister.
Dalí attended drawing school. He had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres in 1919. In 1922, Dalí moved into the Residencia de Estudiantes (Students’ Residence) in Madrid and studied at the Academia de San Fernando (School of Fine Arts). There he became close friends with (among others) Pepín Bello, Luis Buñuel, and Federico García Lorca. The friendship with Lorca had a strong element of mutual passion, but Dalí rejected the poet’s sexual advances. In 1926 Dalí was expelled from the Academia in 1926, because he was accused of starting an unrest. That same year, he made his first visit to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso. Dalí created a number of works heavily influenced by Picasso.
His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931. It introduced a surrealistic image of soft, melting pocket watches. The general interpretation of the work is that the soft watches are a rejection of the assumption that time is rigid or deterministic. Art dealer Julian Levy introduced Dalí to America in 1934. The exhibition in New York of Dalí’s works, including Persistence of Memory, created an immediate excitement.
Dalí was a versatile artist. He used both classical and modernist techniques, sometimes in separate works, and sometimes combined. He was skilled enough to work in different styles of art, ranging from the most academically classic, to the most cutting-edge avant garde. He worked in cubism style. Dalí experimented with many unusual or novel media and processes. He was among the first artists to employ holography in an artistic manner.
Dalí was a skilled and talented draftsman. He successfully worked in other fields: film, sculpture, and photography. His eccentric manner and attention-grabbing behavior sometimes drew more attention than his work. Salvador Dali’s manner of expression and famous moustache have made him one of a kind unique artist and person. During his life Dalí produced over 1,500 paintings in addition to producing illustrations for books, designs for theatre sets and costumes, a plenty of drawings, dozens of sculptures, an animated short film for Disney, and many other projects. The largest collections of Dalí’s work are at the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, followed by the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and the Salvador Dalí Gallery in Pacific Palisades, California, Espace Dalí in Montmartre, Paris, France, as well as the Dalí Universe in London, England.
In November 1988, Dalí entered the hospital with heart failure. On December 5, 1988 King Juan Carlos visited him and confessed that he had always been a serious devotee of Dalí. It was a big honor for the artist. On January 23, 1989, while his favorite record of Tristan and Isolde played, he died of heart failure at Figueres at the age of 84.