Salvador Dalí

"It is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as  it is not necessary for me to know it myself."

- Dali, 1968

Salvador Dali, while known predominately for his surrealist paintings, was also a sculptor, illustrator, filmmaker and accomplished writer.  His discovery of Sigmund Freud’s theories, and his subsequent fascination with the subconscious, lead him to create a body of work admired for its technical virtuosity and praised for its intense and thought-provoking content.

Dali showed an artistic aptitude at a young age and enrolled at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid in 1922. Living at the Residencia de Estudiantes he meets Luis Buñuel a filmmaker, and Federico Garcia Lorca a poet and playwright; Dali would have close personal friendships and fertile artistic exchanges with both.  His student years were marked with controversy but these adventures only added to the mystique already surrounding this young popular artist.  

Later he received both aid and encouragement from Joan Miró and Picasso; the latter going so far as to recommended him to his dealer. Dali began to exhibit in Paris in the late 1920’s and was quickly associated with the surrealists group of which he became an enthusiastic participant.  Gala and the Angelus of Millet Immediately Preceding the Arrival of the Conic Anamorphoses, 1933 is an example of his work from this period.

In 1936 he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine to promote The Museum of Modern Art’s dada and surrealist art exhibition. In doing so Dali became the face of surrealism in America. His eccentric appearance, spontaneous life style, and keen ability to attract publicity, turned him into a media sensation. Later to avoid WWII Dali would return to American with his wife Gala, where he became captivated with Hollywood and the cult of celebrity. Later, from the mid 1940’s on, his paintings would reflect his new preoccupation with religion and science.

There are two museums dedicated to the artist, The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Florida and the Theatre-Museum in Figueres, founded in 1974, which was created and conceived by the artist.  Aside from receiving retrospective exhibitions at many of the largest art galleries in the world, Dali was titled the Marqués de Dali de Púbol by King Juan Carlos in 1982.

© John Max