Salvador Dali was born into the world on May 11th 1904 at 8:45 am. He was born into a middle class family. His father also named Salvador Rafael Anticeto Dali Cusi was a lawyer and notary. He was a anti-clerical atheist and Catalan federalist. Did you just ask yourself WTF is a anti-clerical atheist? Me too.. So I did what one does , I googled it. Accourding to google an anti-clerical athiest is : Opposition to religious authority, typically on social or political matters. One mystery solved , now what is a Catalan federalist? Again accourding to Google a Catalan federalist is: SO…there was no explanation or definition to Catalan federalists. Join me again next week for anouther episode of Unsoved Mysteries where maybe you too can help find the definition for Catalan federalist. LOL I digress
It is said that Salvador’s father was very strict but his mother helped to temper his fathers temper. His Mothers name was Felipa Domenech Ferres. It is also said that she was very encouraging of Salvador and his artistic endeavors. Unfortunately he had a older brother also named Salvador who died of gastroenteritis. It is said that Salvador was haunted by the idea of his dead brother throughout his life, mythologizing him in his art and his writings. He was quoted sayong this about his deceased brother.
” We resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflectons. He was probably the first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute.”– Salvador Dahli
He as well had a younger sister Anna Maria, she was three years younger than Salvador. She would grow up to write a book about Salvador called : Dahli ; as seen by his sister.
His friends he played with as a child and growing up where future FC barcelona footballers Emili-Barba and Josep Samitier. During holidays they would enjoy spending their time with their families at the Catalan resort town of Cadaques, The trio of friends would be found playing football there.
Dahli went to art school at the Municipal Drawing school at Figueres in 1916. He also discovered modern painting on a summer vacation trip to Cadaques with the family of Roman Pichot. Ramon was a local artist who made regular trips to Paris. The following year it is said that Salvador’s father set up for him to have a exhibition out of their home. Then in 1918 he had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres. The Pichot family is said to have introduced Salvador to Futurism. His Uncle Anselm Domenech who owned a book shop in Barcelona sent Salvador some books on Cubism and contemporary art. And thus a star was born in Salvador. These new images in the books fueled him to be the artist he is known to be until this day.
On February 6th 1921 Salvador’s mother Felipa died of uterine cancer. Salvador was a young 16 years old. He said later of his mothers death as being one of his hardest blows he has had to endure. He was quoted to say this about his mother and her death.
” I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted on to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes of my soul.”-Salvador Dali
A year after his mothers death in 1922 Salvador moved into the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid. Here he studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Ares de San Fernando. Salvador became friends with Pepin Bello, Luis Bunuel, Federico Garcia Lorca and others. The friendship with Garcia Lorca was one of mutual passion, but Salvador said that when Lorca made an advance Salvador turned him down. Salvador and Garcia would remain friends and it would be his most emotionally intense relationships until the poet died at the hands of Nationalist forces in 1936 during the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Also in 1922 Salvador started a relationship that would last a lifetime with the Prado Museum. Every Sunday morning, Salvador went to the Prado Museum to study the works of the Great masters before him. Salvador was quoted to say this about this period in his life:
” This was the start of a monk- like period for me, devoted entirely to solitary work: visits to the Prado, where, pencil in hand, I analyzed all the great masterpieces, studio work, models, research.”-Salvador Dali
Salvador’s friends and peers from school where his biggest fans at the time, due to the fact that his experimenting with Cubism was not main stream yet especially not in Madrid at the time. In his work called Cabaret Scene painted in 1922 is said to be a typical example of such work of his in Cubism. During this time of experimenting in Cubism, Salvador became more acquainted with avant-garde movements, including Dada and Futurism.
They say that one of his early works called Night Walking Dreams painted in 1922 has a strong influence in Futurist and Cubist works. In May 1925 Salvador exhibited eleven works in a group exhibition held by the newly formed Sociedad Iberca de Artistas in Madrid. Seven of his works were in his Cubist mode and four are in more realist style. He recieved praise by several leading critics of the time. Some of the trends in Salvador’s works in the 1920’s was influenced by many styles of art ranging from cutting-edge avant-garde to classical influences including Raphael, Bronzino and Valazquez. Salvador’s exhibitions of his works attracted much attention. With a mixture of praise and puzzled debate from critics. Also in the mid 1920’s Salvador started coming into his own sense of personal style. He grew out a neatly trimmed mustache that later in the decades he cultivated into a more flamboyant mustache that became known as his icon.
Salvador collaborated with Surrealist fil director Luis Bunel on a short film Un Chien Andaluo. Salvadors main contribution was to help write the script for the film. Salvador also claimed to have also played a significant role in the feeling of the project, but this has not been proven. In November of 1929 Salvador had another exhibition at the Goemans Gallery and he featured eleven of his works.Andre Btreton described Salvador’s works as ” The most hallucinary that has been produced until now.” The exhibition at Goemans was a commercial success but the critics responses was divided. In the same year Salvador met and married his wife Gala, who was born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. She was a Russian immigrant and ten years older than Salvador and at the time they first met she was already married to Paul Eluard. Salvadors father strongly disapproved of his sons romance with Gala and saw his connection to the surrealists as a bad influence on his morals. But the straw that broke the camels back in their relationship was when Salvador’s father read in an article in the Barcelona newspaper that his son recently had an exhibition in Paris showing his drawing of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. The drawing did not bothered his father, it was the crazy inscription that Salvador wrote that he was quoted saying;
” Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mothers portrait.”– Salvador Dali
Needless to say Salvador’s father was not having any of that disrespect and their relationship took a turn for the worst. Salvador’s father demanded that he recant the statement publicly and Salvador refused. Resulting into Salvador being thrown out of the family home violently on the 28th of December 1929. His father told Salvador to never step foot in his house again and that he would be disinherited. Gala and Salvador rented a small fisherman’s cabin, and over the years he bought the cabin. Then gradually buying neighboring cabins slowly building his beloved villa by the sea. Over the years Salvador’s father would grow to accept his wife.
In 1931 Salvador painted one of his most famouse works called, The Persistence of Memory. This painting had a surrealistic image of soft melting pocket watches. The general interpretation is that the soft watches are a rejection of the assumption that time is rigid or deterministic.
Salvador had two major exhibitions in Paris one in June 1931 and then in May 1932 both at the Pierre Colle Gallery in Paris. His first exhibition in New York was held at the Julien Levy’s gallery in November 1933. The reviews were harsh calling his works frozen nightmares.
Gala and Salvador had a tense, complex and ambiguous relationship lasting over 50 years. Both Salvador and his wife were engaging in extra- marital affairs. Gala was his muse and his primary relationship. Salvador continued to paint Gala as they both aged. His paintings of her are said to be adoring and sympathetic. Their relationship was even made into an Opera, Jo, Dali by the Catalan composer Xavier Benguerel.
In 1934 Salvador had his second New York exhibition that attracted widespread press coverage. This exhibition was held at the Julien Levy Gallery. It was a commercial and critical success. During this time Salvador delivered three lectures on Surrealism at the MOMA Museum of Modern Art. During his lectures he was quoted to tell his audience:
” The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.”– Salvador Dali
Salvador was part of a Surrealist group who had become increasingly associated with the leftist politics. However Salvador maintained an ambiguous on the subject of the proper relationship between politics and art. Leader of the Surrealist group Andre Breton accused Salvador of defending the new and irrational in the Hitler phenomenon, but Salvador rejected this claim, he was quoted to say:
” Iam Hitlerian neither in fact nor intention,”– Salvador Dali
Later in 1934 Salvador was subjected to trial, in which he almost got expelled from the group. Salvador retorted back to those trying to expel him by saying, The difference between the Surrealists and me is that I am a Surrealist.
In 1936 Salvador took part in the London International Surrealist Exhibition. He was lecturing, and the title of his lecture was Fantomes paranioacs authentiques. He delivered this speak while wearing a deep sea diver suit and helmet. He arrived at the Lecture carrying a billard cue and leading a pair of Russian Wolfhounds. At the end the deep sea diver helmet had to be unscrewed as Salvador gasped for breath he was quoted to say:
” I just wanted to show that I was plunging deeply into the human mind.”– Salvador Dahli
Also in 1936 Salvador had many exhibition in which he recieved widespread press coverage. At age 32 Salvador was also featured in Time magazine.
In January 1938 Salvador unveiled Rainy Taxi, a three dimensional work. This piece was first displayed at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Also in 1938 Salvador was invited to Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s house on the French Riviera. There he painted numerous paintings, When he exhibited them in New York. The critics raved of Salvador’s talent. During the years to follow and throughout the war years Salvador was engaged in multiple projects. He executed designs for a number of ballets including Labyrinth in 1942, Sentimental Colloquy, Mad Tristan, and the Cafe of Chitas. In 1945 Salvador created a dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound. During this time Salvador also produced artwork and designs for products such as perfumes, cosmetics, hosiery and ties. In 1946 Salvador worked with Walt Disney and animator John Hench on an unfinished film Destino. I have personally watched this short film. It is incredible, how his mind can imagine all it did is crazy.
With all Salvador’s success he continued to betray Gala with his swarms of muses one of these was Amanda Lear who was a model and his another of his said be many muses. So in 1968 when Salvador bought Gala a castle in Pubol, she retreated there as much as possible for weeks at a time. She made Salvador agree not to come without writing to her first. His fears of abandonment and estrangement from his long time artistic muses contributed to Salvador’s depression and failing health. In 1980 Salvador’s health took a rapid turn for the worse and he was treated for addiction, depression, and Parkinson like symptoms.
Gala died in 1982 at the age of 87. After her death Salvador moved to the castle in Pubol where he had Gala entombed. In May 1983 Salvador’s last painting called The Swallows Tail was revealed.
From 1980 to 1989 Salvador had a series of health scares and concerns. But on January morning on the 23rd 1989 Salvador died of heart failure and was buried in the crypt below the stage of his theater museum in Figueres. The legacy that Salvador Dali left behind is his influence on Pop Art, other Surrealists, and contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons ans Damien Hirst. In a film called Little Ashes he was portrayed by actor Robert Patterson and by Adrien Brody in Midnight in Paris. Two major museums are devoted to Salvador’s work; The Dali Theatre- Museum in Figueres in Catalonia Spain, and the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, US
During Salvador’s lifetime it is said that he created over 1,600 paintings and numerous graphic works, sculptures, three- dimensional objects, and designs. Below are some examples of his representative works.
Basket of Bread painted in 1926
The Lugubrious Game painted in 1929
The ghost of Vermer of Delft which can be used as a table
Metamorphosis of Narcissus painted in 1937
Geopoliticus Child Watching the birth of the New Man 1943