Salvador Dalí

That crazy surrealist.

Some Background Information

Salvador Dalí was born in Figueres, Spain, to Felipa Domenech and Salvador Dalí y Cusi on May 11, 1904. The years of his childhood that he spent at a Marxist school provided important inspiration for his paintings, which he began painting in Pointillist and Impressionist styles. However, Dalí took on a new, “metaphysical” style Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian painter, when he studied in the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1921. In Madrid, Dalí developed his style and never failed to produce new, revolutionized work. Dalí's career was greatly influenced by political events in Europe as well as what he described as his ”violently high-spirited and self--conscious” childhood. His work reflected much of these two things. Besides these things, he was influenced by the artists Pablo Picasso, Joan Miríó and Federico García Lorca. Dalí spent the years of the Spanish Civil War in Paris and London where he focused on his work rather than the political conflict, though he knew many whose lives were taken by the war. Dalí remained in Europe for most of his life thereafter that and died on January 23, 1989 in his birthplace of Figueres, Spain.

Salvador Dali. N.d. N.p. By Myesha Uker.

McNeese, Tim, and Salvador Dalí. Salvador Dali. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2006. Print.

All Of Dalí's Paintings Ever, In One 10 MInute Video

Salvador Dali
DistantMirrors. "Salvador Dali." YouTube. YouTube, 7 May 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

Overview of Dalí's Work

Dalí was not only a painter but a print maker, filmmaker, photographer, designer, jeweler, sculptor, and also produced a great deal of autobiographical writing. He was a shocking and disturbing artist in every sense of the world and because of this, he remains one of the 20th century’s lasting artistic master. In Madrid, Dali experimented with Impressionist and Pointillist styles but soon abandoned these techniques. In 1920, Dali visited Paris where he became greatly interested in Futuristic art, in exploring this style, Dali began using psychoanalytic methods of uncovering the subconscious to develop imagery. Dali was soon expelled from the art academy in 1924, but by this time was already exhibiting work in his newly found style of surrealism and was in the social circles of Garcia Lorca and Maria Mallo.

Mature Period

In the latter 1920s, Dali was practicing Cubist styles and was deeply influenced by Picasso, whom he personally met in Paris in 1929. That same year, at the Galerie Goemans in Paris, Dali exhibited canvases that explored symbolism and his interest in the subconscious. Through this exhibition, he met Robert Desnos, Paul Eluard, and André Breton, who wrote the essay for Dali's catalog. Soon after, Dali moved to Paris, and was invited by Breton to join the Surrealists. For the next several years, Dali's paintings were notably illustrative of his theories about the psychological state of paranoia and its importance as subject matter. He painted bodies, bones, and symbolic objects that reflected sexualized fears of father figures and impotence, as well as symbols that referred to the anxiousness over the passing of time. During this period, he also worked on Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog), a filmic meditation on abject obsessions. His subject matter was so sexually and politically shocking that Dali became infamous, his notoriety exacerbated by his outlandish personal style.

He credited his childhood as inspiration, urging artists to be skeptical of modern technology and to embrace intuitive, craft-based art-making techniques instead. As politics of war were at the forefront of Surrealist debates, Breton expelled Dali from the Surrealists in 1934 due to differing views on General Franco and fascism. In 1937, Dali moved to Italy, and practiced more traditional painting styles that drew on his love of canonized painters, like Gustave Courbet and Jan Vermeer, though his emotionally-charged themes and subjects remained as strange as ever.

Late Period and Death

In the 1940s and 1950s, Dali's paintings focused on religious themes reflecting his abiding interest in the supernatural. He aimed to portray space as a subjective reality, which may be why many of his paintings from this period show objects and figures at extremely foreshortened angles. He continued employing his "paranoiac-critical" method, which entailed working long, arduous hours in the studio and expressing his dreams directly on canvas in manic bouts of energy. In 1955, he returned to Spain and became quite reclusive, but continued to paint until his death in the 1980s. His paintings came to be increasingly likened to Renaissance masterworks. And, like a Renaissance artist, Dali had many other creative outlets: he designed jewelry, sets for theater, worked in fashion design, collaborated with Chanel, and much more. These endeavors led to further commercialization of his work, whose impact has been recently academically reassessed in several large-scale exhibitions.

"Salvador Dalí." Dictionary of Hispanic Biography. Gale, 1996. Biography in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

A Daily Dose of Dali

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"Famous Introverted People: Salvador Dali ⋆ LonerWolf." LonerWolf. N.p., 11 Nov. 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

What Even Is Surrealism?

The Definition of Surrealism




noun: surrealism

an avant-garde style of art and literature developed principally in the 20th century, stressing the subconscious or nonrational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects, unexpected juxtapositions, etc.

(Images that are recognizable unlike reality, for example, a cow has 6 legs and is purple but it is still recognizable as a cow.)

Key Dates: 1920-1930

"Surrealism." N.p., 29 June 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

Michelle. "Surrealist Art - Lessons - TES." Blendspace. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

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Fielding, Hannah. "Spanish Art #1: Salvador Dalí." Hannah Fielding. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

About Surrealism

A literary and art movement, dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. Surrealism inherited its anti-rationalist sensibility from Dada, but was lighter in spirit than that movement. Like Dada, it was shaped by emerging theories on our perception of reality, the most obvious influence being Freud’s model of the subconscious.

Founded in Paris in 1924 by André Breton with his Manifesto of Surrealism, the movement’s principal aim was ‘to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality’. Its roots can be traced back to French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Lautreamont, the latter providing the famous line that summed up the Surrealists’ love of the incongruous; “Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table.”

The major artists of the movement were Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Joan Miró. Surrealism’s impact on popular culture can still be felt today, most visibly in advertising.

Michaelson. "Surrealism." Surrealism. N.p., 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon, and my ambition has been growing ever since.” – Salvador Dalí

This quote perfectly resembles Dalí's ambition and gives a small amount of insight into what he was like as a person. This Dali quote exemplifies a distinct characteristic of Dali. Ambition. Dali was ambitious beyond what words could describe. Everything had to be louder, bigger, more surreal, more DALI!! Dali wanted to be the world’s most famous artist. He wanted his legacy to live forever. This quote is a perfect example of Dali’s immense ambition.

"Quotes." Interview. Salvador Dali. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

Some of Dalí's Most Recognizable Work

“I do not understand why, when I ask for grilled lobster in a restaurant, I’m never served a cooked telephone.” – Salvador Dali

In a surreal world, Dali would never experience this confusion

"Quotes." Interview. Salvador Dali. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

The Persistence of Memory (1931)

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Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

This is Dali's most iconic and most often reproduced painting. It displays a series of melting watches surrounded by ants. The ants represent the idea of decay, which Dali had an odd fascination with, while the clocks hint at time.The one clock resting upon a piece of melting flesh, is likely to represent immortality, especially his own, seeing that the flesh loosely resembles that of Dali's. The cliffs in the background could be taken from those in Dali's home of Catalonia. There is also a very distinct separation between hard and soft objects, such as melting versus sharp edges. This important distinction between hard and soft informs his work method in subverting inherent textual properties: the softening of hard objects and the corresponding hardening of soft objects. The theme is that time controls human actions and this idea is revealed in the painting through the watches dictating the idea of decay through the ants. There is also color symbolism. The white watches are a symbol of purity and limitlessness, just like that of time. The mostly yellow background represents energy and life. Lastly, the brown in the ground is a symbol of natural elements and being down-to-earth. This painting sparked the revolution of surrealism and put Dali on the charts.

Dali, Salvador. The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Greensurrealism /. 2009. Web. 27 Nov. 2015

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Dali's Legacy

Dali's manner of revealing the gap between reality and illusion influenced all manner of modern artists. Beyond developing his own symbolic language, Dali elaborated a way to represent the inner mind. He is considered one of the major Surrealists who used shock and unease to illustrate moments of pleasure, and in this his work remains highly contemporary. Though some second generation Surrealists, like Joseph Cornell, continued working in representational modes, other artists, like many Abstract Expressionists, drew on Dali's belief in mining the subconscious. Painters such as Robert Motherwell, who first showed as Surrealists at Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery, also deeply admired Dali's way of personalizing the political and vice versa.

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We Are ArtBuddies

It's Joan Miro yo yo yo.R-E-S-P-E-C-T me for my surrealisity.
"Pablo Picasso." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

"Joan Miro." Abstract Artist RSS. MediaRaid, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.