Salvador Dalí
Year, Birthplace 1904, Spain
Year, Place of death 1989, Spain
The son of a notary from the small Catalonian port of Figueras, Salvador Dalí’s incredible talent was clear from early on. At seventeen, following his father's wishes, he entered the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid to study to become a teacher. He was interested not only in classical painting but also in the works of the futurists and Giorgio de Chirico. He became friends with Federico García Lorca and Luis Buñuel. In 1923 he was expelled from the college for a year due to his outrageous behaviour and his protests about the incompetence of a new teacher. His first solo exhibition was held in 1925 at the Galerías Dalmau in Barcelona. Lorca spent his holidays with him in Cadaqués. In 1926 he travelled to Paris for the first time where he met Pablo Picasso, whose influence can be seen in his work Arlequin [Harlequin]. After this he was definitively expelled from the college after declaring that the examining board were incompetent. His paintings, which rejected modern styles, already contained the themes of his recurring phantom objects: flies, ants, phallic fingers, crutches, soft viscous forms, scatology, decomposition, emasculation… In 1929, Salvador Dalí was introduced by Joan Miró to André Breton. He became a part of the surrealist group after a screening of Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog), which was the fruit of his collaboration with Luis Buñuel. Over that summer, he met Gala, the wife of Paul Éluard, who became his muse and companion. His first exhibition in Paris, at the Camille Goemans gallery, was held the same year. Breton was convinced by the young painter's ability to open windows on the mind, and he penned the foreword to the catalogue. Dalí continued to collaborate with Buñuel, writing the script to L´Âge d'or (The Golden Age) in 1930, a film that was then banned. He then developed his ‘paranoiac-critical’ method, which allowed him to meticulously paint his delirious interpretations of reality (the prologue to his book Interpretatión paranoico-critical de la imagen obsesiva del 'Angelus’ de Millet was published in 1933). The scatological elements in some of his paintings, such as El juego lúgubre (The Lugubrious Game), scandalized the surrealists, who also found Dali's exhibitionism disturbing. Eventually, his admiration for Hitler led to his exclusion from the group in 1934, although he continued to take part in exhibitions and publications: the surrealist publishers released his book La Conquista de lo Irracional (The Conquest of the Irrational) in 1935, and the poem Metamorfosis de Narciso (Metamorphosis of Narcissus) in 1937. He also took part in the surrealist exhibitions at the Galerie Charles Ratton in Paris in 1936, at the New Burlington Galleries in London in 1936, and at the Galerie Beaux-arts in Paris with Taxi Lluvioso (Rainy Taxi) in 1938. From 1931, his first exhibitions in the United States were very well received. He was present at both his first solo exhibitions in 1934, at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York and at the Wadsworth Atheneum's Avery Memorial in Hartford. He became a highly regarded surrealist painter, a reputation he never lost. He began to earn considerable amounts of money, leading to his being given the nickname Avida Dollars, an anagram of his name. In the United Kingdom, he appeared on the cover of The Times of 14 December 1936. Between 1940 and 1948, Dalí and Gala lived in the United States. His first major exhibition was held at the MoMA in New York in 1941-1942. Although he had veered towards Francoism at the height of the Spanish civil war, he now revealed an ultra-orthodox Catholicism, with pictures of levitating Christs. He worked in the film industry, creating the dream sequences for the Alfred Hitchcock film Spellbound, based on Frances Beeding's novel The House of Dr Edwardes in 1945, and collaborated with Walt Disney on Destino. Over the next few years in Spain he devoted himself to publications, exhibitions, conferences and research into relativity and the third dimension… In 1964 he was given the Gran Cruz de Isabel la Católica (Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic), Spain's highest distinction. His retrospectives began, with one at the MoMA New York in 1965 and another at the Musée national d'art moderne in Paris in 1979. He became a foreign associate member of the Académie des beaux-arts of the Institut de France, and was given the title Marquis of Púbol by King Juan Carlos I. AC