At the beginning of each month we post articles profiling great artists. For July we present…
Eccentric Salvador Dali (Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol was born on May 11th 1904. He divides art lovers into those who love his work and those who hate it. However, nobody can disagree that his work is intensely imaginative and completely brilliant in scope. Salvador Dali’s life was as surreal as his art beginning at an early age when he was taken to visit his older brother’s graveside and his parents told him he was the reincarnation of his brother. Aged only 5 years old Dali believed this strange story and this clearly influenced the mindset of the enigmatic surrealist painter
At ten years, old Salvador Dali started painting and at 12 years old received formal training when he attended the Municipal Drawing School. Here the young Salvador learned the professional skills of engraving, painting, and draughtsmanship. At only 13 years old, Dali displayed his work at an exhibition jointly with his father also Salvador, who was exhibiting his own charcoal drawings at the family home.
This first art exhibition was a major turning point in his young life. Later at only 16 years of age, Dali was to experience the death of his mother through cancer, which deeply affected him. He adored and worshipped his mother and said that losing her was the deepest blow he had ever experienced.
In 1922, Dali moved to Madrid in order to attend the San Fernando School of Fine Arts. His first experiments were with Cubism, which received rapt attention from his fellow students. Despite his artistic prowess, Dali did not complete his formal art education instead being expelled a short time prior to his graduation in 1926. He had stated that nobody at the school was skilled enough to judge his work. As if to consolidate this was true, one of Dali’s most famous works “Basket of Bread” (right) was painted around this time leaving no doubt of his artistic talent.
1931 saw Dali paint “The Persistence of Memory” (right) which was according to many his defining moment and arguably his most famous work. He was propelled to artistic super stardom when the painting was exhibited in New York 1934. It was an instant sensation with the subject matter of melting clocks challenging the perception of time as a linear continuum.
Dali married his long-term companion Gala in 1934 also making this one of the most pivotal times of his life. The couple were inseparable and Gala remained enraptured by him even when critics dismissed him as eccentric and flamboyant and younger muses came and went in his life including disco pop icon Amanda Lear (right) whose career he moulded. Dali loved luxury, excess and anything tat was gilded which he claimed came form his Moorish ancestry. Gala and Dali set up home in the United States and lived there for 8 years until 1949. Dali embraced his Catholic roots while living in America and this was reflected in his art, which became somehow more reverent. Gala’s death was the ultimate blow to Dali and in many ways; he lost his will to live dying just over six years after Gala aged 84.
Dali’s career produced over 1500 paintings, many book illustrations, drawings, sculptures and theatre set designs. He was involved in numerous other projects including an animation for Walt Disney and he is the creator of the Chupa Chups lollipop logo.
Dali is remembered for his brilliant art, but also for the quirks of his sometimes disruptive and odd personality. In some ways his eccentricities was a brilliant public relations ploy to make his life’s work high profile. Without his iconic moustache and staring gaze trademarks, he may not have become as well known. He took surrealism quite literally at times as demonstrated by wearing a scuba diving suit to a lecture where all the other guests were in formal attire.
The legendary personality of Salvador Dali lives on through his body of work, which resides in public and private collections worldwide. A permanent display of work can be found at the Dali Theatre and Museum in Spain and also the Dali Museum in Florida to name two.