A flamboyant painter and sometime writer, sculptor and experimental film-maker, Salvador Dali was probably the greatest Surrealist artist, using bizarre dream imagery to create unforgettable and unmistakable landscapes of his inner world.
DalÃƒÂ was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain close to the French border. In 1916, Dali discovered modern painting on a summer vacation to Cadaques with the family of Ramon Pichot, a local artist who made regular trips to Paris. The next year, Dali’s father organized an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their family home. He had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres in 1919.
In 1922 DalÃƒÂ moved into the Students’ Residence in Madrid and there studied at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts. However, shortly before his final exams DalÃƒÂ was expelled when he stated that, “no one on the faculty was competent enough to examine him”. His mastery of painting skills is well documented by that time in his flawlessly realistic Basket of Bread, which was painted in 1926.
By 1929 Dali met his wife Gala, officially joined the surrealist group in Paris and began seriously establishing himself. In 1931 he painted his most famous work, The Persistence of Memory – also known as Melting Clocks. But by 1934 he was kicked out of the “official” Surrealist group by Andre Breton (the father of Surrealism) and the other members. coined a brilliant anagram for Dali’s name: Avida Dollars (which more or less translates to “Eager for Dollars”); Dali shot back, The only difference between me and the Surrealists is that I am a Surrealist.
Throughout his life he dabbled in just about every artistic medium imaginable from canvas, to video, and holograms to sculpture. But always with extensive symbolism portrayed in all of his works. Indeed, Dali produced over 1,500 paintings in his career, in addition to illustrations for books, lithographs, designs for theater sets and costumes, a great number of drawings, dozens of sculptures, and various other projects, including an animated cartoon for Disney.
Of course, one of the most interesting things about Dali is that he is the most modern of the “great artists”. And as a result we have volumes of media and information about his life and times.
For example, here is a ten minute clip from the famous 1950’s game show “What’s My Line” featuring special guest Salvador Dali:
And here Dali appears in a few commercials:
Someone also put together this tribute to Salvador Dali featuring a large collection of his art and photographs.
Finally, a few more bits of reference material if you choose to read further:
- Here is a chronological gallery of his work.
- The Dali Photo Library contains over 60,000 photos.
- Virtual Dali
- The ArtCyclopedia listing for Salvador Dali.