"Webcoast's View on Salvador Dali"

A look into the mind of one of the most brilliant artists




Salvador Dali 1904 - 1989

A Brief Biography

Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech was born at 8:45 on the morning of May 11, 1904, in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Spain, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, only sixteen miles from the French border in the principality of Catalonia. The son of a prosperous notary, he spent his boyhood in Figueres and at the family's summer home in the coastal fishing village of Cadaques where his parents built his first studio. As an adult, he made his home with his wife Gala in nearby Port Lligat.

The young Dali attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Early recognition of Dali's talent came with his first one-man show, held in Barcelona in 1925. He became internationally known when three of his paintings, including the Basket of Bread (in the Salvador Dali Online Exhibit) were shown in the third annual Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928.

The following year Dali held his first one-man show in Paris. He also joined the Paris Surrealist Group, led by former Dadaist, Andre Breton. That year Dali met Gala Eluard when she visited him in Cadaques with her husband, poet Paul Eluard. She became Dali's lover, muse, business manager, and chief inspiration.

Dali soon became a leader of the Surrealist Movement. His painting, Persistence of Memory (1931), is still one of the best known surrealist works. But, as war approached, the apolitical Dali clashed with the Surrealists and was expelled from the Surrealist movement during a "trial" in 1934. He did, however, exhibit works in international surrealist exhibitions throughout the decade.

By 1940 Dali was moving into a new style which eventually became known as his "classic" period, demonstrating a preoccupation with science and religion.

Dali and Gala escaped from Europe during World War II, spending 1940-48 in the United States. These were very important years for the artist. The Museum of Modern Art in New York gave Dali his first major retrospective exibit in 1941. This was followed in 1942 by the publication of Dali's autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.

As Dali moved away from Surrealism and into his classic period, he began his series of 18 large canvases, many concerning scientific, historical or religious themes. Among the best-known of these works are The Hallucinogenic Toreador and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in the Online Exhibit and The Sacrament of the Last Supper in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

In 1974 Dali opened the Teatro Museo Dali in Figueres, Spain. This was followed by retrospectives in Paris and London at the end of the decade. After the death of his wife, Gala, in 1982, Dali's health began to fail. It deteriorated further after he was burned in a fire in his home in Pubol in 1984. Two years later, a pacemaker was implanted. Much of this part of his life was spent in seclusion, first in Pubol and later in his apartments at the Torre Galatea, adjacent to the Teatro Museo. Dali died January 23, 1989 in Figueres from heart failure with respiratory complications.

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