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Salvador Dali (1904-89)

Salvador Dali was a prominent spanish painter who is


considered as one of the most influential figure in the
Surrealism Movement and best known for the striking and
bizarre images in his surrealist work.
Dal was highly imaginative. His eccentric manner and
attention-grabbing public actions sometimes drew more
attention than his artwork.
He painted a dream world in which commonplace objects,
painted with meticulous realism, are juxtaposed or deformed in
bizarre ways. He tried to fix his subconscious with images to
visualize his dreams in all their inscrutable symbolism. He
developed a method, 'paranoiac-critical', a spontaneous
method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and
systematic objectivism of delirious associations and
interpretations.

File-Photo : Salvador Dali

Early Life
Salvador Dal was born in 1904 in a small agricultural town of Spain. In 1916, upon
recognizing his immense talent, Dal's parents sent him to drawing school in Spain. In the late
1920s, after reading Sigmund Freud's writings on the erotic significance of subconscious
imagery, he joined the Surrealist group of artists. In 1922, Dal enrolled at the Academia de
San Fernando in Madrid. But in 1926, he was permanently expelled shortly before his final
exams for declaring that no member of the faculty was competent enough to examine him.
He joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most
famous representative of the movement.
Some of his artworks of this era are Basket of Bread(1926), The First Days of
Spring(1929), The average Bureaucrat (1930), Persistence of memory (1930),
The Anthropomorphic Cabinet (1936).
Throughout his life, he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism 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 paranoiac-critical.
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.
He moved to the USA in 1940 and remained there until 1955, at this time he devoted himself
largely to self-publicity; his paintings were often on religious themes. In 1955 he returned to
Spain and in old age became a recluse.

Some of his later work includes Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire (1940),
The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1952), The Madonna of Port
Lligat(1950) and a soft self-portrait.
Apart from painting, Dal's output included sculpture, book illustration, jewellery design, and
theatre design. In collaboration with the director Luis Buuel he also made the first
Surrealist films-Un chien andalou (1929) and L'Age d'or (1930); and he contributed a dream
sequence to Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945).

Death and Legacy


In 1980, Dal was forced to retire from painting due to a motor disorder that caused
permanent trembling and weakness in his hands. No longer able to hold a paint brush, he'd
lost the ability to express himself the way he knew best. More tragedy struck in 1982, when
Dal's beloved wife and friend, Gala, died. The two events sent him into a deep depression. In
1989, in the city of his birth, Dal died of heart failure at the age of 84.
He has been cited as major inspiration from many modern surrealism artists. His manic
expression and famous moustache have made him something of a cultural icon for the
bizarre and surreal. Although he is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists of the 20th
century, his status is controversial.