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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.
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.