Artist renowned for both technical innovations in the advance of surrealism and the breadth of artistic interests from painting to cinema; b. Figueras, Spain, March 11, 1904; d. Figueras, January 23, 1989. Dalí attended the Marist Brothers School (1914–18) and the Municipal School of Drawing in Figueras. At San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid (1922–26), he befriended Luis Buñuel and Frederico Garcia Lorca. Dalí's artistic vision was initially influenced by ninteenth-century Spanish genre painters, the British Pre-Raphaelites, and the great baroque masters, Velázquez and Vermeer. In 1928 Dalí encountered the French surrealists (Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, and André Bréton) whose artistic philosophy shaped the young Spaniard's mature artistic vision. Dalí's greatest influences were the texts of Sigmund Freud, the poetic-philosophical vision of the Italian metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico, and cubism. Dalí created the style of painting identified as "paranoiaccritical method" in order to free the visions of the subconscious through meticulous images of the fantastic merged with reality through a juxtaposition of brightly colored small objects against expanses of dull colors in a unique perspectival space.
Contribution to Modern Culture. From his first exhibitions in Paris (1929) and in New York (1933), Dalí captivated the public with his visualizations of the modern subconscious—sexual anxiety, the eminent destruction of civilization, the fear of war, and the recognition of violence as both a plague and an irremediable element of modern society—as evidenced in his masterpiece, Persistence of Memory (1931). Some cultural commentators find Dalí's greater contribution to modern culture to be his literary and cinematic productions. A prolific writer, he collaborated with Buñuel in the development of modern cinema, thereby expanding the boundaries of high art to include photography and film. Critical consensus affirms Dalí's period of artistic innovations and influence as being between 1929 and 1939. His initial public embrace of Roman Catholicism occurred during the Spanish Civil War when he supported the Monarchy; for him to be Spanish was to be simultaneously Catholic and Monarchist.
His religiosity became both more public and more profound as a result of personal crises that shifted his thinking towards traditional Christian subject matter in his painting during the late 1940s and 1950s, e.g., Madonna of Port Lligat (1950), Christ of St. John of the Cross (1951), and The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955). These large-scale meticulous presentations effected a traditional aura of religious devotion through the artist's emphasis on dramatic lighting and spatiality and concentration on singular iconographic elements. His late works garnered Dalí a large new public audience and the critical cynicism of the artistic community that categorized them as sentimental popularizations or devotional illustrations.
Bibliography: d. abadie, Dalí: Retrospective 1920–1980 (Paris 1979). d. ades, Dalí (London 1983). a. bosquet, Entretiens avec Dalí (Paris 1966) [ET 1969]. w. chadwick, Myth in Surrealist Paintings, 1929–1939 (Ann Arbor 1980). r. crevel, Dalí, o el anti-oscurantismo (Barcelona 1978). s. dalÍ, L'Amour et la mémoire (Paris 1931); Babaou (Paris 1932); Comment on devient Dalí with a. parinaud (Paris 1973) [ET 1976]; Dalí par Dalí de Draeger (Paris 1970) [ET 1971]; Dalí on Modern Art, the Cuckolds of Antiquated Modern Art (New York 1957); Dalí's Moustache with p. halsmann (New York 1954); Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to His Own Madness (New York 1938); Dix recettes d'immortalité (Paris 1973); Hidden Faces (New York 1944); La Conquete de l'irrationnel (Paris 1935) [ET 1935]; Les Diners de Gala (New York 1963); La Femme Visible (Paris 1930); Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship (New York 1948); Journal d'un génie (Paris 1964) [ET 1964]; Lettre ouverte à Dalí (Paris 1996) [ET 1967]; Manifeste mystique (Paris 1951) [ET 1951]; Métamorphose de Narcisse (Paris 1937) [ET 1937]; Oui: Méthode paranoiaque: Critique et autres textes (Paris 1971); The Passion According to Dalí with l. pauwals (St. Petersburg FL 1985); Procès en diffamation (Paris 1971); Ma révolution culturelle (Paris 1968); The Secret Life of Dalí (London 1961). m. gerard, ed., Dalí de Draeger (Paris 1968) [ET 1970]. m. del arco, Dalí in the Nude (St. Petersburg FL 1984). r. descharnes, The World of Dalí (London and New York 1972). j. dopagne, Dalí (Paris 1974; New York 1976) i. gomez de liaÑo, Dalí (London 1987). r. gomez de la serna, Dalí (Madrid 1977; London 1984). r. guardiola rovira, Dalí y su museo (Figueras 1984). c. lake, In Quest of Dalí (New York 1969); l. livingstone, ed., Dalí (Greenwich CT 1959). c. maddox, Dalí (London and New York 1979). k. von maur, Salvador Dalí, 1904–1989 (Stuttgart 1989). g. max, ed., Dalí (New York 1968). m. merlino, Diccionario privado (Madrid 1980). a. r. morse, Dalí: A Study of His Life and Work (Greenwich CT 1958); Catalogue of Works by Dalí (Cleveland 1956); ed., a dalÍ Journal: Impressions and Private Memoirs of Dalí (Cleveland 1962); A New Introduction to Dalí (Cleveland 1960); The Dalí Museum (Cleveland 1962); A Dalí Primer (Cleveland 1970); Dalí: The Masterworks (Cleveland 1971); Dalí: A Guide to His Works in Public Museums (Cleveland 1974); Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso; A Preliminary Study in Their Similarities and Contrasts (Cleveland 1973). r. passeron, Dalí (Paris 1978). j. ple, Dli, Guardi, Nonell, tres artistes catalanes (Barcelona 1986). c. rojas, El mundo mitico y magico de Salvador Dalí (Barcelona 1985) [ET 1993]. l. romeo, Dalí (Secaucus 1979). m. secrest, Dalí: The Surrealist Jester (London 1986). j. t. soby, Dalí (New York 1969 ); p. walton, Dalí, Miro (New York 1967). Collections: Stedelijk Museen, Amsterdam; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; Dalí Museum, Figueras; Glasgow Art Gallery, Glasgow; The Tate Gallery, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Musée Nationale d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, FL; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Kunsthaus, Zurich.
Born: May 11, 1904
Died: January 23, 1989
Spanish painter and artist
The Spanish painter Salvador Dali was one of the best-known surrealist artists (artists who seek to express the contents of the unconscious mind). Blessed with an enormous talent for drawing, he painted his dreams and bizarre moods in a precise way.
Salvador Dali was born on May 11, 1904, near Barcelona, Spain. He was the son of Salvador and Felipa Dome (Domenech) Dali. His father was a notary (one who witnesses the signing of important documents). According to Dali's autobiography (the story of his own life), his childhood was filled with fits of anger against his parents and classmates and he received cruel treatment from them in response. He was an intelligent child, producing advanced drawings at an early age.
Dali attended the Colegio de los Hermanos Maristas and the Instituto in Figueras, Spain. By 1921 he convinced his father that he could make a living as an artist and was allowed to go to Madrid, Spain, to study painting. He was strongly influenced by the dreamlike works of the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978). He also experimented with cubism (a type of art in which objects are viewed in terms of geometry—the science of points, lines, and surfaces). He was briefly imprisoned for political activities against the government and was finally thrown out of art school in 1925.
Association with surrealist movement
Dali's own style eventually began to show itself: he would draw, in an extremely precise manner, the strange subjects of his dream world. Each object, while carefully drawn, existed in strange contrast to other objects and was contained in a space that often appeared to tilt sharply upward. He applied bright colors to small objects set off against large patches of dull color. His personal style showed a number of influences, strongest among which was his contact with surrealism. The surrealists believed in artistic and political freedom to help free the imagination. Dali's first contact with the movement was through seeing paintings; he then met other surrealist artists when he visited Paris, France, in 1928. Dali created some of his finest paintings in 1929.
In the early 1930s many of the surrealists began to break away from the movement, feeling that direct political action had to come before any artistic revolutions. Dali put forth his "Paranoic-Critical method" as a way to avoid having to politically conquer the world. He felt that by using his own vision to color reality to his liking it would become unnecessary to actually change the world. The Paranoic-Critical method meant that Dali had trained himself to possess the power to look at one object and "see" another. This did not apply only to painting; it meant that Dali could take a myth that was interpreted a certain way and impose upon it his own personal ideas.
A key event in Dali's life during this time was meeting his wife, Gala, who was at that time married to another surrealist. She became his main influence, both in his personal life and in many of his paintings. Toward the end of the 1930s, Dali's exaggerated view of himself began to annoy others. André Breton (1896–1966), a French poet and critic who was a leading surrealist, angrily expelled Dali from the surrealist movement. Dali continued to be very successful in painting as well as in writing, stage design, and films, but his seriousness as an artist began to be questioned. He took a strong stand against abstract (unrealistic) art and began to paint Catholic subjects in the same tight style that had previously described his personal nightmares.
In 1974 Dali broke with English business manager Peter Moore and had the rights to his art sold out from under him by other business managers, leaving him with none of the profits. In 1980 a man named A. Reynolds Morse of Cleveland, Ohio, set up an organization called Friends to Save Dali. Dali was said to have been cheated out of much of his wealth, and the goal of the foundation was to put him back on solid financial (relating to money) ground.
In 1983 Dali exhibited many of his works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid. This show made him hugely famous in Spain and brought him further into favor with the Spanish royal family and major collectors around the world. After 1984 Dali was confined to a wheelchair after suffering injuries in a house fire.
Dali died on January 23, 1989, in Figueras, Spain. He was remembered as the subject of much controversy (dispute), although in his last years, the controversy had more to do with his associates and their dealings than with Dali himself.
For More Information
Carter, David A. Salvador Dali. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.
Dalí, Salvador. Diary of a Genius. New York: Doubleday, 1965.
Dali, Salvador. The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. New York: Dial Press, 1942. Reprint, New York: Dover, 1993.
Descharnes, Robert. The World of Salvador Dali. New York: Harper & Row, 1962.
Etherington-Smith, Meredith. The Persistence of Memory: A Biography of Dali. New York: Random House, 1992.
The Spanish painter Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was one of the best-known and most flamboyant surrealist artists. Possessed with an enormous facility for drawing, he painted his dreams and bizarre moods in a precise illusionistic fashion.
Salvador Dali was born May 11, 1904 near Barcelona, Spain. According to his autobiography, his childhood was characterized by fits of anger against his parents and schoolmates and resultant acts of cruelty. He was a precocious child, producing highly sophisticated drawings at an early age. He studied painting in Madrid, responding to various influences, especially the metaphysical school of painting founded by Giorgio de Chirico, and at the same time dabbling in cubism.
Gradually, Dali began to evolve his own style, which was to execute in an extremely precise manner the strange subjects of his fantasy world. Each object was drawn with painstaking exactness, yet it existed in weird juxtaposition with other objects and was engulfed in an oppressive perspectival space which often appeared to recede too rapidly and tilt sharply upward. He used bright colors applied to small objects set off against large patches of dull color. His personal style was evolved from a combination of influences, but increasingly from his contact with surrealism. The contact was at first through paintings and then through personal acquaintance with the surrealists when he visited Paris in 1928. In 1929, Dali painted some of his finest canvases, when he was still young and excited over his surrealist ideas and had not yet developed so extensively his elaborate personal facade. He began to build up a whole repertoire of symbols, mainly drawn from handbooks of abnormal psychology, stressing sexual fantasies and fetishes.
The surrealists saw in Dali the promise of a breakthrough of the surrealist dilemma in 1930. Many of the surrealists had broken away from the movement, feeling that direct political action had to come before any mental revolutions. Dali put forth his "Paranoic-Critical method" as an alternative to having to politically conquer the world. He felt that his own vision could be imposed on and color the world to his liking so that it became unnecessary to change it objectively. Specifically, the Paranoic-Critical method meant that Dali had trained himself to possess the hallucinatory power to look at one object and "see" another. On the nonvisual level, it meant that Dali could take a myth which had a generally accepted interpretation and impose upon it his own personal and bizarre interpretation. For example, the story of William Tell is generally considered to symbolize filial trust, but Dali's version had it as a story of castration. This way he had of viewing the world began early when he was told in art school to copy a Gothic virgin and instead drew a pair of scales. It meant that although Dali assumed many of the attitudes of madness this was, at least in part, consciously done.
A key event in Dali's life was his meeting with his wife, Gala, who was at that time married to another surrealist. She became his deliberately cultivated main influence, both in his personal life and in many of his paintings.
Break with the Surrealists
Toward the end of the 1930s, Dali's romantic and flamboyant view of himself began to antagonize the surrealists. There was a final break on political grounds, and André Breton angrily excommunicated Dali from the surrealist movement. Dali continued to be extremely successful commercially, but his seriousness as an artist began to be questioned. He took a violent stand against abstract art, mixed with the fashionable world, and began to paint Catholic subjects in the same tight illusionistic style which had previously described his personal hallucinations.
In 1974, Dali broke with English business manager Peter Moore and had his copyrights sold out from under him by other business managers which gave him none of the profits. In 1980, A. Reynolds Morse of Cleveland, Ohio set up an organization called Friends to Save Dali. Dali was said to have been defrauded out of much of his wealth and the foundation was to put him back on solid financial ground.
In 1983, Dali exhibited a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid, Spain. This show made him immensely famous in Spain and brought him further into favor with the Spanish royal family and major collectors around the world. After 1984, Dali was confined to a wheel chair after suffering injuries as the result of a house fire.
Dali died on January 23, 1989 at Pigueras Hospital in Figueras, Spain. Dali was remembered as the subject of controversy and substance, although in his last years, the controversy had more to do with his associates and their dealings then with Dali.
Dali presents a fascinating though exaggerated vision of himself in his autobiographical writings, the best of which is The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (1942; rev. ed. 1961). A sober but admiring study is James Thrall Soby, Salvador Dali (1941; 2d rev. ed. 1946). Robert Descharnes, The World of Salvador Dali (trans. 1962), is lavishly illustrated. Biographical information on Dali is available in the 1940 and 1951 issues of Current Biography.
Dali's obituary appears in the January 24, 1989 issue of the New York Times. □
http://www.salvador-dali.org; http://www.spanisharts.com/reinasofia/reinasofia.htm; http://www.famsf.org