Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres. He was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. Dalí's expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography. His eccentric manner and attention-grabbing public actions sometimes drew more attention than his artwork.
Dalí's older brother, also named Salvador, had died nine months earlier, at the age of five, Dalí was taken to his brother's grave and told by his parents that he was his brother's reincarnation, a concept which he came to believe.
In 1922, he moved to Madrid and studied at the Academia de San Fernando where he already drew attention as an eccentric and dandy. He was expelled from the Academia in 1926, that same year, he made his first visit to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso, whom the young Dalí revered. As he developed his own style over the next few years, Dalí made a number of works heavily influenced by Picasso and Miró. Some trends in Dalí's work that would continue throughout his life were already evident in the 1920s. He devoured influences from many styles of art, ranging from the most academically classic, to the most cutting-edge avant garde. He grew a flamboyant moustache which became an iconic trademark for the rest of his life.
In 1929, Dalí met his lifelong and primary muse, inspiration, and future wife Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. In the same year, Dalí had important professional exhibitions and officially joined the Surrealist group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris. His work had already been heavily influenced by surrealism for two years. Meanwhile, Dalí's relationship with his father was close to rupture as he disapproved his morals. In 1931, Dalí painted one of his most famous works, The Persistence of Memory, which 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.
Dalí and Gala married in 1934 and later remarried in a Catholic ceremony in 1958. Gala seemed to tolerate Dalí's dalliances with younger muses, secure in her own position as his primary relationship. Dali continued to paint her as they both aged, producing sympathetic and adoring images of his muse. In 1934, Dalí was subjected to a "trial" connected to politicals views, in which he was formally expelled from the Surrealist group. To this, Dalí retorted, "I myself am surrealism". In 1936, Dalí took part in the London International Surrealist Exhibition. In 1940, as World War II tore through Europe, Dalí and Gala retreated to the United States, where they lived for eight years. Many of his works incorporated optical illusions, negative space, visual puns, and trompe l'oeil visual effects. He also experimented with pointillism, enlarged half-tone dot grids, and stereoscopic images. In his later years, young artists such as Andy Warhol proclaimed Dalí an important influence on pop art.
Dalí's post–World War II period bore the hallmarks of technical virtuosity and an intensifying interest in optical effects, science, and religion. He became an increasingly devout Catholic, while at the same time he had been inspired by the shock of Hiroshima and the dawning of the "atomic age". In 1980, he took a dangerous cocktail of unprescribed medicine that damaged his nervous system. At 76 years old, Dalí was a wreck, with Parkinson-like symptoms. He died of heart failure at the age of 84. Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark "melting watches", the elephant is also a recurring image in Dalí's works. The egg is another common Dalíesque image. Two of the most popular objects of the surrealist movement were Lobster Telephone and Mae West Lips Sofa.
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