Salvador Dali was an important Catalan-Spanish painter, best known for his surrealist works. Dali's work is noted for its striking combination of bizarre dreamlike images with excellent draftsmanship and painterly skills influenced by the Renaissance masters. Dali was an artist of great talent and imagination. He had an admitted love of doing unusual things to draw attention to himself.
Dali was born in the town of Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, the son of comfortable middle-class notary. Dali attended Municipal Drawing School, where he first received formal art training. In 1916 Dali discovered modern painting on a summer vacation to Cadaqués with the family of Ramon Pichot, a local artist who made regular trips to Paris.
The next year Dali's father organized an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their family home. He had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres in 1919.
In 1922 Dali moved to Madrid, where he studied at the Academy of Arts. Dali already drew attention as an eccentric, wearing long hair and sideburns, coat, stockings and knee britches in the fashion style of a century earlier. What got him the most attention from his fellow students were his paintings where he experimented with Cubism (even though in these earliest Cubist works he arguably did not completely understand the movement, for his only information on Cubist art came from a few magazine articles and a catalogue given to him by Pichot, since there were no Cubist artists in Madrid at the time).
Dali also experimented with Dadaism, which arguably influenced his work throughout his life. Dali was expelled from the Academy in 1926 shortly before his final exams when he stated that no one on the faculty was competent to examine him.
That same year he made his first visit to Paris, where he met with Pablo Picasso, whom young Dali revered; the older artist had already heard favorable things about Dali from Joan Miró. Dali did a number of works heavily influenced by Picasso and Miró over the next few years, as he groped towards developing his own style. Some trends in Dali's work that would continue throughout his life were already evident in the 1920s, however: Dali omnivorously devoured influences of all styles of art he could find and then produced works ranging from the most academic classicism to the most cutting edge avant garde, sometimes in separate works, and sometimes combined. Exhibitions of his works in Barcelona attracted much attention, and mixtures of praise and puzzled debate from critics.
1929 was an important year for Dali. He collaborated with Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel on the short film Un Chien Andalou and met his muse and future wife, Gala, a Russian immigrant eleven years his senior. In the same year, Dali had important professional exhibitions and officially joined the Surrealist group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris (although his work had already been heavily influenced by Surrealism for 2 years). The Surrealist hailed what Dali called the Paranoiac-critical method of accessing the subconscious for greater artistic creativity.
Upon Francisco Franco's coming to power in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Dali came into conflict with his fellow Surrealists over political beliefs. As such Dali was officially expelled from the predominantly Marxist Surrealist group. Dali's response to his expulsion was "Surrealism is me." Andre Breton coined the anagram "Avida Dollars," by which he referred to the Dali after the period of his expulsion; the Surrealists henceforth would speak of Dali in the past tense, as if he were dead. The surrealist movement and various members (such as Ted Joans) thereof would continue to issue extremely harsh polemics against Dali until the time of his death and beyond.
Late in his career Dali did not confine himself to painting but experimented with many unusual or novel media and processes; for example, he made bulletist works and claimed to have been the first to employ holography in an artistic manner. Several of his works incorporate optical illusions.
In Dali's later years, young artists like Andy Warhol proclaimed Dali an important influence on pop art.
In 1960 Dali began work on the Teatro-Museo Gala Salvador Dali in his home town of Figueres; it was his largest single project and the main focus of his energy through 1974.
In 1982 King Juan Carlos of Spain bestowed on Dali the title Marquis of Pubol.
Salvador Dali died of heart failure on January 23, 1989 at Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. He is buried in the crypt of his Teatro Museo in Figueres.
Asteroid "2919 Dali" was named after the artist.
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