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Salvador Dali

Surrealism is a form of art that developed during World War I in Europe. It is a cultural movement where artists express themselves behind unnerving and illogical images. According to Andre Breton, who is one of the co-founders of surrealism as a poet, surrealism is “to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality”. Surrealism is used in writing, photography, painting, filmmaking, theatre, and other media. The first name that comes to mind when talking about surrealist painters is Salvador Dali whose artworks are known worldwide.


Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was born on May 11 1904 in Catalonia, Spain as the 2nd child of the family. The 1st child, Dali’s older brother Salvador, died of gastroenteritis 9 months before Dali was born so his parents gave the name to Salvador Dali. The Dali couple who couldn’t accept the death of their firstborn, regularly visited Salvador’s grave with their other children which led to Dali getting confused about his identity and comparing himself with his late brother. Later on, he said, “We resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.” “He was probably the first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute” about the brother he never met. Since he was the only boy in the family, Dali attracted the attention of his mother, sister, aunt, and grandma which resulted in him showing whimsical and bratty behavior at a young age.


In 1916, he went to the art school of Colegio de Hermanos Maristas Instituto. He didn’t pay much attention to his classes and usually preferred to daydream during the lectures. After his first year at the school, during the summer break, he met Ramon Pichot who introduced modern art to Salvador. The following year, his father organized an exhibition consisting of Dali’s charcoal works. In 1919, he had his first official exhibition at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres. His mother passed away when Salvador was only 16 years old in 2021. He later said “My mother's death was the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshipped her... I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes of my soul.” about this traumatic event. He moved to Madrid to study at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernande in 1922. During this time, Giorgio de Chirico’s artwork piqued Salvador’s interest and showcased the effects of cubism and Dadaism in his paintings. As these styles weren’t popular in Madrid, his paintings quickly became famous around the area. He also got acquainted with Lautreamont and Freud’s works and as a result of Freud’s influence, Dali began using suggestive sexual imagery and symbolism in his paintings.


Because of his nondisciplinary behavior, he got suspended from school in 1923 and the same year, got arrested for his political actions against the government of Girona. Towards the end of the year, the school expelled him, but he resumed his studies in 1925 and held his first personal exhibition in Barcelona. This exhibition surprised the art critics and gained a lot of attention. In April 1926, Dali went to Paris for the first time and met Pablo Picasso. The influence of Picasso could be seen in most of Dali’s paintings for the next few years as he tried to figure out his own way of making art. Dali’s work became extremely affected by surrealism after 1927. During this time, Dali grew his mustache in the manner of Diego Velazquez, who was a Spanish master painter, and this mustache became the signature look of Dali.

After coming back from his trip to Paris, he was expelled from the school permanently. In the March of 1928, he met Luis Montanya and wrote “Anti-Art Catalan Manifesto”, which defended the idea of modernism and futurism in art, with Sebastia Gasch. In 1929, he filmed a short avant-garde film named “An Andalusian Dog” with Luis Bunuel. Dali and Bunuel quickly gained fame with this short film.


In August 1924, Dali met Elena "Gala" Dmitrievna Diakonova his greatest love and his source of inspiration. They got married in 1934. She also took care of Dali’s finances and business contracts. They moved to the USA to escape from World War 2 in 1940 where Dali spent most of his time on

theatre sets, designing for fashion & jewelry stores, and organizing flashy shows. On the 10th of June in 1982, his wife, Gala, passed away and this shattered the famous artist. Later, he moved to Pubol Castle where he painted his last artwork "The Swallow's Tail" and lived there till 1984. After a fire that severely injured his leg occurred in his room, Dali moved back to Figueres, the Dali Theatre & Museum. On the 23rd of January 1989, Salvador Dali Domenech lost his life due to heart failure and was buried in the vault of the Dali Theatre & Museum.

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