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Salvador Dalí

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.

Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí

Spanish Artist Salvador Dalí was a Surrealist icon best known for his articulate skill and exquisite works of art. Dalí is among the most versatile and prolific artists of the 20th century, partially due to his explorations of subconscious imagery. He practiced sculpting, printmaking, fashion, advertising, filmmaking and more. His flamboyant personality and mischievousness contributed to his rise to becoming an international celebrity, however, his mastery of art is arguably his most distinct attribute.

Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueras, Spain. At an early age, Dalí went to a private school where all his classes were taught in French. French was to become the language he used as an artist. While on vacation during his youth, he would frequently draw and paint images of his family and the Cadaqués coastline. This is where he would study painting before he entered art school. Soon thereafter he studied drawing at the Colegio de Hermanos Maristas and the Instituto in Figueres, Spain. Dalí was not a serious student, yet he had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theatre of Figueres in 1919.

In 1920, Dalí was set on becoming a painter, so he went to Madrid to study at the Fine Arts School. Here he was exposed to many different artistic styles, including Cubism, Futurism, and Purism. Dalí was expelled multiple times from this institution, and his work began displaying disturbing imagery of mutilation and decay. In the late 1920’s he traveled to Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and René Magritte, who introduced him to the realm of Surrealism. Dalí began experimenting with more styles, influenced partially by Picasso and his new friends, which led to his first Surrealistic period in 1929. Dalí also collaborated with Luis Bunuel on two films and met his soon-to-be wife Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova (also known as “Gala”). Gala took care of the business side of Dalí’s art, such as the legal and financial aspects.

In 1934, Dalí was introduced to America in a New York exhibition and he was soon expulsed from the Surrealists. Despite this, he continued to participate in many Surrealist exhibitions. Dalí and Gala moved to New York during World War II, where he was given his own retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in 1941. Here he collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney on film and animation projects. During this time, Dalí began the journey into his classical period and strayed away from Surrealism. He then moved back to Catalonia in 1948.

Post-World War II brought Dalí’s classicism and new scientific interests as well as a growing spirituality and dedication to the Catholic Church. Dalí defined this as “Nuclear Mysticism”, a combination of mystical and scientific aspects. This includes his Divine Comedy and Twelve Tribes of Israel suites, among many other of his famous works.

Dalí eventually passed of heart failure on January 23, 1989, at the age of 84. His life and his art are still revered by many, and he is still exhibited internationally to this day. Dalí created new artistic languages and became one of the first painters to truly achieve international celebrity status. Martin Lawrence Galleries carries select Salvador Dalí artworks, which can be found here.