Felip Jacint Dalí Domènech (Catalan) Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí Domènech (Spanish), (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) was one of the most important painters of the 20th century. He is best known for his surrealist work identified by its striking, bizarre, dreamlike images, combined with his excellent draftsmanship and painterly skills influenced by the Renaissance masters. An artist of great talent and imagination, he had a love of doing unusual things to draw attention to himself.
This sometimes irked those who loved his art as much as it annoyed his critics, since his eccentric theatrical manner sometimes overshadowed his artwork in public attention.
was born on May 11, 1904, in the town of Figueres, in the Empordà region close to the French border, in Catalonia, Spain, son of the comfortably off middle-class notary Salvador Dalí i Cusí and Felipa
Domenech Ferres. Dalí's father, a lawyer who was a strict disciplinarian, was tempered by his wife who encouraged her son's drawing. Dalí had an older brother, also named Salvador, who died prior to Dalí’s birth. At the age of five he was taken to his brother's grave and told by his parents that he was his brother reincarnate. He also had a sister, Ana María, who was 3 years younger than him.
Drawing School, where he first received formal art training. In 1916 Dalí discovered modern painting on a summer vacation to Cadaqués (in the nearby Costa Brava) with the family of Ramon Pichot, a local artist who made regular trips to Paris. The next year Dalí'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 1921 Dalí’s mother died of cancer, when he was only 16 years old. After her death,
Dalí’s father married the sister of his deceased wife; Dalí somewhat resented this marriage.
In 1922 Dalí moved in to the "Residencia de Estudiantes" (Students' Residence) in Madrid. There he met the artists Luis Buñuel and Federico García Lorca with whom he would become great friends whilst studying together at the San Fernando
School of Fine Arts. Dalí already drew attention as an eccentric, wearing long hair and sideburns, coat, stockings and knee
breeches in the fashion style of a century earlier. But his paintings, where he experimented with Cubism, got him the most attention from his fellow students (though in these earliest
Cubist works he probably did not completely understand the movement, his only information on Cubist art having come from a
few magazine articles and a catalogue given to him by Pichot, since there were no Cubist artists in Madrid at the time).
Dalí also experimented
with Dada, which arguably influenced his work throughout his life. He became close friends with
poet Federico García Lorca, with whom he might have become romantically involved, and with filmmaker Luis Buñuel at this time. Dalí was expelled from the Academy in 1926 shortly before his final exams when he stated that no one on the faculty was competent
enough to examine him.
That same year
he made his first visit to Paris, where he met with Pablo Picasso, whom young Dalí revered; the older artist had already heard favorable things about Dalí
from Joan Miró. Dalí did a number of works heavily influenced by Picasso and Miró over the next few
years, as he groped towards developing his own style. Some trends in Dalí's work that would continue throughout his life were
already evident in the 1920s, however: Dalí omnivorously devoured influences of all styles of art he could find and
then produced works ranging from the most academic classicism to the most cutting edge avant-garde, sometimes in separate works, and sometimes combined. Exhibitions of his works in Barcelona attracted much attention, and mixtures of praise and puzzled debate from critics.
with Buñuel in 1929 on the short film Un chien andalou and met his muse and future wife, Gala, born Helena Dmitrievna Deluvina Diakonova, a Russian immigrant eleven years his senior who was then married to the surrealist poet Paul Eluard. In the same year, Dalí had important professional exhibitions and officially joined
the Surrealist group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris (although his work had already been heavily influenced by Surrealism for two years).
The Surrealists hailed what Dalí called the Paranoiac-critical method of accessing the subconscious for greater artistic creativity.
In 1934 Dalí and Gala, having lived together since 1929, were married in a civil ceremony. They
re-married in a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1958. The artist may have been bisexual. 
In 1936 Dalí took part in the International Surrealist Exhibition. His lecture entitled Fantomes paranoiaques authentiques was delivered wearing
a deep-sea diving suit.
Upon Francisco Franco's coming to power in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Dalí came into conflict with his fellow Surrealists over political beliefs. As such
Dalí was officially expelled from the predominantly Marxist Surrealist group. Dalí's response to his expulsion was "Surrealism is me." Andre Breton coined the anagram "Avida Dollars", by which he referred to Dalí after the period of his expulsion; the
Surrealists henceforth would speak of Dalí in the past tense, as if he were dead. The surrealist movement and various members
thereof (such as Ted Joans) would continue to issue extremely harsh polemics against Dalí until the time of
his death and beyond.
As war started
in Europe, Dalí and Gala moved to the United States in 1940, where they lived for eight years. In 1942 he published his entertaining autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. He spent his remaining years back in his beloved Catalonia. The fact that he chose
to live in Spain while it was ruled by Franco drew criticism from progressives and many other artists. As such, probably at
least some of the common dismissal of Dalí's later works had more to do with politics than the actual merits of the works
themselves. In 1959, Andre Breton asked Dalí to represent Spain in the Homage to Surrealism Exhibition, celebrating
the Fortieth Anniversary of Surrealism, among the works of Joan Miró, Enrique Tábara, and Eugenio Granell.
Late in his
career Dalí did not confine himself to painting but experimented with many unusual or novel media and processes; for example,
he made bulletist works and claimed to have been the first to employ holography in an artistic manner. Several of his works incorporate optical illusions. In his later years, young artists like Andy Warhol proclaimed Dalí an important influence on pop art. Dalí had a keen interest in natural science
and mathematics. This is manifested in several of his paintings. Dalí was especially fascinated by DNA, and the hypercube (which is featured in the painting "Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)").
In 1960 Dalí began work on the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí in his home town of Figueres; it was his largest single project and the main focus of his energy through 1974. He continued to make additions through the mid 1980s. He found time, however, to design the Chupa Chups logo in 1969.
In 1982 King Juan Carlos of Spain bestowed on Dalí the title Marquis of Pubol, for which Dalí later paid him back by giving him a drawing (Head of Europa,
which would turn out to be Dalí's final drawing), after the king visited him on his deathbed.
Gala died on
June 10, 1982. After Gala's death, Dalí lost much of his will to live. He deliberately dehydrated
himself—possibly as a suicide attempt, possibly in an attempt to put himself into a state of suspended animation, as
he had read that some micro-organisms could do.
He moved from
Figueres to the castle in Pubol which he had bought for Gala and was the site of her death. In 1984 a fire broke out in his bedroom under unclear circumstances—possibly a suicide
attempt by Dalí, possibly a murder attempt by a greedy caretaker, possibly simple negligence by his staff—but in any
case Dalí was rescued and returned to Figueres where a group of his friends, patrons, and fellow artists saw to it that he
was comfortable living in his Theater-Museum for his final years. There have, however, been allegations that his guardians forced
Dalí to sign blank canvases that would later (even after his death) be used and sold as originals. As a result, art dealers tend to be wary of late works attributed to Dalí. Salvador Dalí died of heart failure
at Figueres on January 23, 1989, at the age of 84. He is buried in the crypt of his Teatro Museo in Figueres.
over 1,500 paintings in his career, in addition to producing 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.
Dalí has sometimes
been portrayed as a fascist supporter, especially by his enemies in surrealist groups. The reality is probably somewhat
more complex; in any event, he was probably not an anti-semite, given that he was a friendly acquaintance of famed architect and designer Paul Laszlo, who was ethnically Jewish.
In his youth
Dalí embraced for a time both anarchism and communism. His writings account various anecdotes of making radical political statements more to
shock listeners than from any deep conviction, which was in keeping with Dalí's allegiance to the dada movement. When he fell into the circle of mostly Marxist surrealists who denounced as enemies the monarchists on one hand and the anarchists on the other, Dalí explained to them that he personally was an anarcho-monarchist,
a conception of sovereignty which might be related to Georges Bataille's or Max Stirner's theories.
With the outbreak
of the Spanish Civil War, Dalí fled from fighting and refused to align himself with any group.
closer to the Franco regime after his return to Catalonia after World War II. Some of Dalí's statements supported the repression enacted under
Franco's Fascist regime, congratulating Franco for his actions aimed "at clearing Spain of destructive forces". Dalí sent
telegrams to Franco, praising him for signing death warrants for political prisoners. Dalí even painted a portrait of Franco's
daughter. It is impossible to determine whether his tributes to Franco were sincere or whimsical: he also once sent a telegram
praising the "Conducător", Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu, for his adoption of a sceptre as part of his regalia. The daily newspaper Scînteia published it, without suspecting its mocking aspect. Dalí's eccentricities were tolerated by the Franco regime, since
not many world-famous artists would accept living in Spain. One of Dalí's few possible bits of open disobedience was his continued
praise of Federico García Lorca even in the years when Lorca's works were banned.
Lozano's biography Sex, Surrealism, Dali and Me, by Clifford Thurlow, Lozano makes it clear that Dali never stopped
being a surrealist. As he said of himself: The only difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a surrealist. Everything,
his support for Franco and telegrams to Ceauşescu, must be seen in this light. Born a Catholic, he would say: I practise
but do not believe. He described himself as "a liar who always tells the truth". While many artists and writers may become
eccentric with the growth of their fame, Dali was always eccentric. He was born eccentric. To be great is to be misunderstood,
he once said, and that was the truth.
and famous students/disciples of Dalí
Dali art gallery at http://www.dali-gallery.com/html/dali.php
A collection of his works at http://dali.uffs.net/galerie/galerie.ascii.php
Another good collection at http://www.salvador-dali.org/eng/fcollec.htm