Spanish painter Salvador Dali, also called Salvador Dali Domenech, displayed profound artistic ability and a keenly unique perspective at a young age. Whether his art was an extension of his rebellious nature or vice versa, his dreamlike landscapes encourage duplicity of thought.
Dali was born to wealthy parents Salvador Dali Cusi, a notary public, and Felipa Domenech Ferres. Young Salvador was enrolled at the State Primary School in 1908. In an autobiography, Dali described himself as an impetuous youth who displayed fits of anger toward his parents and peers. After having trouble at his first school, Dali transferred to the Hispano-French School of the Immaculate Conception in Figueres in 1910. There, he learned to speak French, a language that served him well culturally and during his later travels to Paris. Salvador met Gala Eluard in 1929, and they married in 1934. Gala served as Dali’s muse and obsession. The couple lived in Europe and the United States. Salvador was considered a controversial figure, a reputation exacerbated by the company he kept. He was expelled from several universities and was arrested for political reasons. His extensive works, which include paintings, drawings, writings, and films, represent the unique perspective with which he viewed the world.
Dali spent much of his time until the year 1916 at the Pichot family’s Moli de la Torre estate outside Figueres. The Pichots were a family of artists and intellectuals. The works of Ramon Pichot introduced Salvador to Impressionism. He began formal studies in drawing under Juan Nunez at the Municipal Drawing School in 1916 and exhibited his work at the Societat de Concerts rooms in Figueres Municipal Theatre in 1919. This exhibit hall would later become the Dali Theatre-Museum, which is where Dali spent his final years. Dali was intent on becoming a painter, so his father insisted he study at the Fine Arts School in Madrid to become a teacher. Dali was obligated to comply with his father’s wishes and enrolled in 1920. His painting, Market, was awarded the University Vice-Chancellor’s prize at the Students Original Art Works Competition Exhibition of the Catalan Students’ Association in 1922. While in Madrid, Dali also attended the Special Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving School where he was introduced to several influential artists of the time. Dali’s first individual exhibition was at Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona in 1925. During a trip to Paris in 1926, he met Pablo Picasso and toured the Louvre Museum. The same year, Dali was expelled from a second university but continued to exhibit his paintings, which by this time were showing his bent toward Surrealism. Dali published his writings and made films for several years while experimenting with Cubism, Purism, and Futurism. By the early 1930s, his work was fully solidified in the Surrealist movement. The Persistence of Memory was displayed in Surrealist exhibitions in Paris and in the United States in 1931. He specialized in painting small subjects in vivid colors on larger landscapes painted in dull colors. Dali trained himself to look at an object and see a different object, which led to his unique interpretations. Dali wrote several books, scripts, and poems throughout his lifetime, establishing his personal “Paranoiac-critical” view of art. He created dreamlike sequences for Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound in 1945. His art includes botanical subjects, as seen in Landscape with Butterflies, to mystical motifs, such as The Apotheosis of Homer, to nuclear pictorials after 1950, as in Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion.
- Dali’s business managers sold the rights to his works without giving Dali a penny. A. Reynolds Morse of Cleveland, Ohio, formed an organization called Friends to Save Dali in 1980 to help Salvador get back on his feet.