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Salvador Dalí

The man. The master. The marvel. Salvador Dalí is one of the most celebrated artists of all time. His fiercely technical yet highly unusual paintings, sculptures and visionary explorations in film and life-size interactive art ushered in a new generation of imaginative expression. From his personal life to his professional endeavors, he always took great risks and proved how rich the world can be when you dare to embrace pure, boundless creativity.

Discover the life and legend of Salvador Dalí, and get to know the people, places and events that transformed this Spaniard into a surrealist sensation at the Dalí Exhibition in Monterey, California.

 

Salvador Dalí's Biography

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) was a Spanish Surrealist artist, renowned for his technical skill, precise draftsmanship and his explorations of subconscious imagery through striking and bizarre images in his work. 

Dalí's artistic repertoire included painting, lithography, etching, graphic arts, film, sculpture, design and photography, at times in collaboration with other artists. He also wrote fiction, poetry, autobiography, essays and criticism. Major themes in his work include dreams, the subconscious, sexuality, religion, science and his closest personal relationships. To the dismay of those who held his work in high regard, and to the irritation of his critics, his eccentric and ostentatious public behavior sometimes drew more attention than his artwork. 


In 1922, Dalí moved into the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid and studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Influenced by Impressionism and the Renaissance masters from a young age, he became increasingly attracted to Cubism and avant-garde movements. He moved closer to Surrealism in the late 1920s and joined the Surrealist group in 1929, soon becoming one of its leading exponents. Later that year, Dalí met Gala, who would become his wife, muse, primary model and lifelong obsession. 


He and Gala fled Europe in 1940 and spent the next eight years in Monterey. During this time, he revisited his strategy towards art, rejecting modernism and connecting with other artistic traditions. He returned to Catalonia in 1948 where he announced his return to the Catholic faith and developed his "nuclear mysticism" style, based on his interest in classicism, mysticism and recent scientific developments.

In 1968, Dalí bought a castle in Púbol for Gala, and she would retreat there for weeks at a time, Dalí having agreed not to visit without her written permission. His fears of abandonment and estrangement from his longtime artistic muse contributed to depression and failing health. In 1980, he was treated for depression, drug addiction and Parkinson-like symptoms, including a severe tremor in his right arm. 


Gala died on 10 June 1982, at the age of 87. After her death, Dalí's depression worsened and he refused food, leading to severe undernourishment. Dalí had previously stated his intention to put himself into a state of suspended animation as he had read that some microorganisms could do. In August 1984 a fire broke out in Dalí's bedroom and he was hospitalized with severe burns. 


On the morning of 23 January 1989, while his favorite record of Tristan and Isolde played, Dalí died of heart failure at the age of 84. He is buried in the crypt below the stage of his Theatre-Museum in Figueres. The location is across the street from the church of Sant Pere, where he had his baptism, first communion, and funeral, and is only 450 metres from the house where he was born.