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Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, in the region of Empordà. This Spanish region would inspire Dalí and is subtly present throughout his entire body of work.

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Salvador Dalí was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, in the Empordà region. This region of Spain would inspire Dalí and is subtly present throughout his entire body of work.

 

It was during a visit to the port of Cadaqués that he discovered painting. He began taking engraving courses, and it was during this time that he created his first canvases. His mother, Felipa, passed away when Salvador was only 16 years old. After obtaining his high school diploma the following year, in 1922, he went to study in Madrid and entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. There, he met Federico Garcia Lorca and became closely interested in Dadaism.

 

In 1925, Dalí exhibited at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona, where he presented paintings such as “Young Girl at the Window,” for which his sister Ana Maria posed, and “Portrait of My Father.” These two realistic works already demonstrated the extent of Dalí’s mastery of pictorial techniques.

 

Excluded from the Academy of Fine Arts of Madrid, Salvador Dalí visited Paris in 1927. There, he met Pablo Picasso, whom he admired and considered a role model, as well as a rival. Living between Figueres and Paris, Dalí continued to mature artistically. In 1929, thanks to his Catalan friend Joan Miró, he met and joined the circle of artists in the surrealist movement. He became acquainted with André Breton, René Magritte, Paul Éluard, and other prominent figures in the art world. The short film he co-directed with Luis Buñuel, “Un chien andalou,” was released in Paris, contributing to his growing fame. During the summer spent with his new friends, Dalí fell madly in love with Paul Éluard’s wife, Gala. The feelings were mutual, and the couple would now spend their lives together. In 1930, Dalí and Gala acquired a small fisherman’s house near Cadaqués, in the cove of Portlligat. During this period, Salvador Dalí found his personal style, greatly influenced by surrealist painting.

 

In 1931, Salvador Dalí painted one of his most famous works, “The Persistence of Memory.” Also known as “The Soft Watches,” this painting is representative of the distinctive style of the Spanish painter. A surrealist painting, it takes on a completely original graphic form, a product of his overflowing imagination and influenced by psychoanalysis. Dalí, still active in the surrealist circle, continued to exhibit regularly. In 1934, he created “The Face of Mae West Which Can Be Used as an Apartment,” a surrealist installation.

 

After a visit to the United States, an essential step in establishing his global popularity, he stayed in Spain and fascist Italy, during which he painted the works “Soft Construction with Boiled Beans – Premonition of the Civil War” (1936) and “Spain” in 1938. Alongside his artistic work, Dalí cultivated a true cult of personality around himself. Extravagant and willingly provocative, he fashioned himself into a character of a brilliant and disturbed painter. He was expelled from the surrealist movement in 1939 due to his declarations in support of Hitler or Franco.

 

In 1940, after the Spanish Civil War, Salvador Dalí painted “The Face of War.” Shortly afterward, in the midst of World War II, Dalí and Gala left Europe for the United States, where they lived for 8 years. In New York, he painted his “Self-portrait with Grilled Bacon.” Dalí’s preferred themes in his surrealist work included death, onanism, eroticism, and putrefaction, all staged with perfect technical mastery and a penchant for trompe-l’oeil images. He continued to be a prominent figure in surrealism and simultaneously experimented with a more realistic style, particularly in religious paintings (Crucifixion, 1954). As a versatile artist, he excelled in sculpture, advertising, and the creation of jewelry, perfumes, costumes, and set designs. Even his own house in Portlligat, transformed over the years into a true palace, was a surreal work of art in itself.

 

In the immensely prosperous 1960s, Dalí was decorated by the Spanish state. During the same period, he met Amanda Lear, who became the painter’s muse, serving as a model and living with the Dalí-Gala couple. The idea of building a theater-museum in his hometown, Figueres, took root in Salvador Dalí’s mind. In 1969, he bought the castle of Púbol for Gala. The Dalí Theatre-Museum emerged and was inaugurated on September 28, 1974. A true surrealist masterpiece, paying tribute to Dalí’s career, the painter continued to work on his theater for many years. Dalí, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease from 1980 onwards, became a widower in 1982 following Gala’s death. He then moved to live in the castle of Púbol. The King of Spain, Juan Carlos, appointed Dalí as the Marquis of Púbol. However, the painter was forced to return to live in his Theatre-Museum after the castle caught fire in 1984.

 

The brilliant and eccentric Salvador Dalí passed away on January 23, 1989, in Figueres, at the age of 84. The Spanish painter was buried in the crypt within his Theatre-Museum.

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