Salvador Doménec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech was born on May 11, 1904 at 8:45 a.m. GMT in the town of Figueres, in the Empordà region, close to the French border in Catalonia, Spain. Dalí’s older brother, also named Salvador (born October 12, 1901), had died of gastroenteritis nine months earlier, on August 1, 1903. His father, Salvador Dalí i Cusí, was a middle-class lawyer and notary whose strict disciplinary approach was tempered by his wife, Felipa Domenech Ferrés, who encouraged her son’s artistic endeavors. When he was five, Dalí was taken to his brother’s grave and told by his parents that he was his brother’s reincarnation, a concept which he came to believe. Of his brother, Dalí said, “…[we] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.” He “was probably a first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute.”
Dalí also had a sister, Ana María, who was three years younger. In 1949, she published a book about her brother, Dalí As Seen By His Sister. His childhood friends included future FC Barcelona footballers Sagibarba and Josep Samitier. During holidays at the Catalan resort of Cadaqués, the trio played football together.
Dalí attended drawing school. In 1916, Dalí also discovered modern painting on a summer vacation trip to Cadaqués with the family of Ramon Pichot, a local artist who made regular trips to Paris.The next year, Dalí’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 February 1921, Dalí’s mother died of breast cancer. Dalí was sixteen years old; he later said his mother’s death “was the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshipped her… I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes of my soul.” After her death, Dalí’s father married his deceased wife’s sister. Dalí did not resent this marriage, because he had a great love and respect for his aunt.
Madrid and Paris
In 1922, Dalí moved into the Residencia de Estudiantes (Students’ Residence) in Madrid and studied at the Academia de San Fernando (School of Fine Arts). A lean 1.72 m (5 ft. 7¾ in.) tall, Dalí already drew attention as an eccentric and dandy man. He wore long hair and sideburns, coat, stockings, and knee breeches in the style of English aesthetes of the late 19th century.
At the Residencia, he became close friends with (among others) Pepín Bello, Luis Buñuel, and Federico García Lorca. The friendship with Lorca had a strong element of mutual passion, but Dalí rejected the poet’s sexual advances.
However, it was his paintings, in which he experimented with Cubism, that earned him the most attention from his fellow students. At the time of these early works, Dalí probably did not completely understand the Cubist movement. His only information on Cubist art came from magazine articles and a catalog given to him by Pichot, since there were no Cubist artists in Madrid at the time. In 1924, the still-unknown Salvador Dalí illustrated a book for the first time. It was a publication of the Catalan poem “Les bruixes de Llers” (“The Witches of Llers”) by his friend and schoolmate, poetCarles Fages de Climent. Dalí also experimented with Dada, which influenced his work throughout his life.
Dalí was expelled from the Academia in 1926, shortly before his final exams, when he stated that no one on the faculty was competent enough to examine him. His mastery of painting skills was evidenced by his realistic Basket of Bread, painted in 1926. That same year, he made his first visit to Paris, where he met with Pablo Picasso, whom the young Dalí revered. Picasso had already heard favorable reports about Dalí from Joan Miró. As he developed his own style over the next few years, Dalí made a number of works heavily influenced by Picasso and Miró.
Some trends in Dalí’s work that would continue throughout his life were already evident in the 1920s. Dalí devoured influences from many styles of art, ranging from the most academically classic to the most cutting-edge avant garde. His classical influences included Raphael, Bronzino, Francisco de Zurbaran, Vermeer, and Velázquez. He used both classical and modernist techniques, sometimes in separate works, and sometimes combined. Exhibitions of his works inBarcelona attracted much attention along with mixtures of praise and puzzled debate from critics.
Dalí grew a flamboyant moustache, influenced by seventeenth-century Spanish master painter Diego Velázquez. The moustache became an iconic trademark of his appearance for the rest of his life.
1929 through World War II
In 1929, Dalí collaborated with surrealist film director Luis Buñuel on the short film Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog). His main contribution was to help Buñuel write the script for the film. Dalí later claimed to have also played a significant role in the filming of the project, but this is not substantiated by contemporary accounts. Also, in August 1929, Dalí met his muse, inspiration, and future wife Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. She was a Russianimmigrant ten years his senior, who at that time was married to surrealist poet Paul Éluard. In the same year, Dalí had important professional exhibitions and officially joined the Surrealist group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris. His work had already been heavily influenced by surrealism for two years. The Surrealists hailed what Dalí called the paranoiac-critical method of accessing the subconscious for greater artistic creativity.
Meanwhile, Dalí’s relationship with his father was close to rupture. Don Salvador Dalí y Cusi strongly disapproved of his son’s romance with Gala, and saw his connection to the Surrealists as a bad influence on his morals. The last straw was when Don Salvador read in a Barcelona newspaper that his son had recently exhibited in Paris a drawing of the “Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ”, with a provocative inscription: “Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother’s portrait.”
Outraged, Don Salvador demanded that his son recant publicly. Dalí refused, perhaps out of fear of expulsion from the Surrealist group, and was violently thrown out of his paternal home on December 28, 1929. His father told him that he would disinherit him, and that he should never set foot in Cadaquès again. The following summer, Dalí and Gala rented a small fisherman’s cabin in a nearby bay at Port Lligat. He bought the place, and over the years enlarged it, gradually building his much beloved villa by the sea.
In 1931, Dalí painted one of his most famous works, The Persistence of Memory, which introduced a surrealistic image of soft, melting pocket watches. The general interpretation of the work is that the soft watches are a rejection of the assumption that time is rigid or deterministic. This idea is supported by other images in the work, such as the wide expanding landscape, and the other limp watches, shown being devoured by ants.
Dalí and Gala, having lived together since 1929, were married in 1934 in a civil ceremony.
They later remarried in a Catholic ceremony in 1958.
Dalí was introduced to America by art dealer Julian Levy in 1934. The exhibition in New York of Dalí’s works, including Persistence of Memory, created an immediate sensation. Social Registerlistees feted him at a specially organized “Dalí Ball.” He showed up wearing a glass case on his chest, which contained a brassiere. In that year, Dalí and Gala also attended a masquerade party in New York, hosted for them by heiress Caresse Crosby. For their costumes, they dressed as the Lindbergh baby and his kidnapper. The resulting uproar in the press was so great that Dalí apologized. When he returned to Paris, the Surrealists confronted him about his apology for a surrealist act.
While the majority of the Surrealist artists had become increasingly associated with leftist politics, Dalí maintained an ambiguous position on the subject of the proper relationship between politics and art. Leading surrealist André Breton accused Dalí of defending the “new” and “irrational” in “the Hitler phenomenon,” but Dalí quickly rejected this claim, saying, “I am Hitlerian neither in fact nor intention.” Dalí insisted that surrealism could exist in an apolitical context and refused to explicitly denounce fascism Among other factors, this had landed him in trouble with his colleagues. Later in 1934, Dalí was subjected to a “trial”, in which he was formally expelled from the Surrealist group. To this, Dalí retorted, “I myself am surrealism.”
In 1936, Dalí took part in the London International Surrealist Exhibition. His lecture, entitled Fantomes paranoiaques authentiques, was delivered while wearing a deep-sea diving suit and helmet. He had arrived carrying a billiard cue and leading a pair of Russian wolfhounds, and had to have the helmet unscrewed as he gasped for breath. He commented that “I just wanted to show that I was ‘plunging deeply’ into the human mind.”
Also in 1936, at the premiere screening of Joseph Cornell’s film Rose Hobart at Julian Levy’s gallery in New York City, Dalí became famous for another incident. Levy’s program of short surrealist films was timed to take place at the same time as the first surrealism exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, featuring Dalí’s work. Dalí was in the audience at the screening, but halfway through the film, he knocked over the projector in a rage. “My idea for a film is exactly that, and I was going to propose it to someone who would pay to have it made,” he said. “I never wrote it down or told anyone, but it is as if he had stolen it.” Other versions of Dalí’s accusation tend to the more poetic: “He stole it from my subconscious!” or even “He stole my dreams!”
At this stage, Dalí’s main patron in London was the very wealthy Edward James. He had helped Dalí emerge into the art world by purchasing many works and by supporting him financially for two years. They also collaborated on two of the most enduring icons of the Surrealist movement: the Lobster Telephone and the Mae West Lips Sofa.
In 1938, Dalí met Sigmund Freud thanks to Stefan Zweig. Later, in September 1938, Salvador Dalí was invited by Gabrielle Coco Chanel to her house La Pausa in Roquebrune. There he painted numerous paintings he later exhibited at Julien Levy Gallery in New York.
In 1939, Breton coined the derogatory nickname “Avida Dollars”, an anagram for Salvador Dalí, and a phonetic rendering of the French avide à dollars, which may be translated as “eager for dollars”. This was a derisive reference to the increasing commercialization of Dalí’s work, and the perception that Dalí sought self-aggrandizement through fame and fortune. Some surrealists henceforth spoke of Dalí in the past tense, as if he were dead The Surrealist movement and various members thereof (such as Ted Joans) would continue to issue extremely harsh polemics against Dalí until the time of his death and beyond.
In 1940, as World War II was in full swing at Europe, Dalí and Gala moved to the United States, where they lived for eight years. After the move, Dalí returned to the practice of Catholicism. “During this period, Dalí never stopped writing,” wrote Robert and Nicolas Descharnes.
In 1941, Dalí drafted a film scenario for Jean Gabin called Moontide. In 1942, he published his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. He wrote catalogs for his exhibitions, such as that at the Knoedler Gallery in New York in 1943. Therein he expounded, “Surrealism will at least have served to give experimental proof that total sterility and attempts at automatizations have gone too far and have led to a totalitarian system. … Today’s laziness and the total lack of technique have reached their paroxysm in the psychological signification of the current use of the college.” He also wrote a novel, published in 1944, about a fashion salon for automobiles.
This resulted in a drawing by Edwin Cox in The Miami Herald, depicting Dalí dressing an automobile in an evening gown. Also in The Secret Life, Dalí suggested that he had split with Buñuel because the latter was a Communist and an atheist. Buñuel was fired (or resigned) from MOMA, supposedly after Cardinal Spellman of New York went to see Iris Barry, head of the film department at MOMA. Buñuel then went back to Hollywood where he worked in the dubbing department of Warner Bros. from 1942 to 1946. In his 1982 autobiography Mon Dernier soupir (English translation My Last Sigh published 1983), Buñuel wrote that, over the years, he rejected Dalí’s attempts at reconciliation.
An Italian friar, Gabriele Maria Berardi, claimed to have performed an exorcism on Dalí while he was in France in 1947. In 2005, a sculpture of Christ on the Cross was discovered in the friar’s estate. It had been claimed that Dalí gave this work to his exorcist out of gratitude, and two Spanish art experts confirmed that there were adequate stylistic reasons to believe the sculpture was made by Dalí.
Later years in Catalonia
Starting in 1949, Dalí spent his remaining years back in his beloved Catalonia. The fact that he chose to live in Spain while it was ruled by Franco drew criticism from progressives and from many other artists. As such, it is probable that the common dismissal of Dalí’s later works by some Surrealists and art critics was related partially to politics rather than to the artistic merit of the works themselves. In 1959, André Breton organized an exhibit called Homage to Surrealism, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Surrealism, which contained works by Dalí, Joan Miró, Enrique Tábara, and Eugenio Granell. Breton vehemently fought against the inclusion of Dalí’s Sistine Madonna in the International Surrealism Exhibition in New York the following year.
Late in his career, Dalí did not confine himself to painting, but experimented with many unusual or novel media and processes: he made bulletist works and was among the first artists to employ holography in an artistic manner. Several of his works incorporate optical illusions. In his later years, young artists such as Andy Warhol proclaimed Dalí an important influence on pop art. Dalí also had a keen interest in natural science and mathematics.
This is manifested in several of his paintings, notably in the 1950s, in which he painted his subjects as composed of rhinoceros horns. According to Dalí, the rhinoceros horn signifies divine geometry because it grows in a logarithmic spiral. He also linked the rhinoceros to themes of chastity and to the Virgin Mary. Dalí was also fascinated by DNA and the hypercube (a 4-dimensional cube); an unfolding of a hypercube is featured in the painting Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus).
Dalí’s post–World War II period bore the hallmarks of technical virtuosity and an interest in optical illusions, science, and religion. He became an increasingly devout Catholic, while at the same time he had been inspired by the shock of Hiroshima and the dawning of the “atomic age”. Therefore Dalí labeled this period “Nuclear Mysticism.” In paintings such as “The Madonna of Port-Lligat” (first version) (1949) and “Corpus Hypercubus” (1954), Dalí sought to synthesize Christian iconography with images of material disintegration inspired by nuclear physics. “Nuclear Mysticism” included such notable pieces as La Gare de Perpignan (1965) and The Hallucinogenic Toreador (1968–70). In 1960, Dalí began work on the Dalí Theatre and Museum in his home town of Figueres; it was his largest single project and the main focus of his energy through 1974. He continued to make additions through the mid-1980s
In 1968, Dalí filmed a humorous television advertisement for Lanvin chocolates. In this, he proclaims in French “Je suis fou de chocolat Lanvin!” (I’m crazy about Lanvin chocolate), while biting a morsel, and the effect is to make him crosseyed and his moustache ends swivel upwards. Also in 1969, he designed the Chupa Chups logo. Also in 1969, he was responsible for creating the advertising aspect of the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest and created a large metal sculpture that stood on the stage at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
In the television programme Dirty Dalí: A Private View broadcast on Channel 4 on June 3, 2007, art critic Brian Sewell described his acquaintance with Dalí in the late 1960s, which included lying down in the fetal position without trousers in the armpit of a figure of Christ and masturbating for Dalí, who pretended to take photos while fumbling in his own trousers
In 1980, Dalí’s health took a catastrophic turn. His near-senile wife, Gala, allegedly had been dosing him with a dangerous cocktail of unprescribed medicine that damaged his nervous system, thus causing an untimely end to his artistic capacity. At 76 years old, Dalí was a wreck, and his right hand trembled terribly, with Parkinson-like symptoms.
In 1982, King Juan Carlos bestowed on Dalí the title of Marqués de Dalí de Púbol (English: Marquis of Dalí de Púbol) in the nobility of Spain, hereby referring to Púbol, the place where he lived. The title was in first instance hereditary, but on request of Dalí changed for life only in 1983. To show his gratitude for this, Dalí later gave the king a drawing (Head of Europa, which would turn out to be Dalí’s final drawing) after the king visited him on his deathbed.
Gala died on June 10, 1982. After Gala’s death, Dalí lost much of his will to live. He deliberately dehydrated himself, possibly as a suicide attempt, or perhaps in an attempt to put himself into a state of suspended animation as he had read that some microorganisms could do. He moved from Figueres to the castle in Púbol, which he had bought for Gala and was the site of her death. In 1984, a fire broke out in his bedroom under unclear circumstances. It was possibly a suicide attempt by Dalí, or possibly simple negligence by his staff. In any case, Dalí was rescued and returned to Figueres, where a group of his friends, patrons, and fellow artists saw to it that he was comfortable living in his Theater-Museum in his final years.
There have been allegations that Dalí was forced by his guardians to sign blank canvases that would later, even after his death, be used in forgeries and sold as originals. As a result, art dealers tend to be wary of late works attributed to Dalí
In November 1988, Dalí entered the hospital with heart failure, and on December 5, 1988 was visited by King Juan Carlos, who confessed that he had always been a serious devotee of Dalí.
On January 23, 1989, while his favorite record of Tristan and Isolde played, he died of heart failure at Figueres at the age of 84, and, coming full circle, is buried in the crypt of his Teatro Museo 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 three blocks from the house where he was born.
The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation currently serves as his official estate. The U.S. copyright representative for the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation is the Artists Rights Society. In 2002, the Society made the news when they asked Google to remove a customized version of its logo put up to commemorate Dalí, alleging that portions of specific artworks under their protection had been used without permission. Google complied with the request, but denied that there was any copyright violation
Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark “soft watches” that first appear in The Persistence of Memory suggest Einstein’s theory that time is relative and not fixed. The idea for clocks functioning symbolically in this way came to Dalí when he was staring at a runny piece of Camembert cheese on a hot day in August.
The elephant is also a recurring image in Dalí’s works. It first appeared in his 1944 work Dream Caused by the of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening. The elephants, inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture base in Rome of an elephant carrying an ancient obelisk, are portrayed “with long, multijointed, almost invisible legs of desire” along with obelisks on their backs.
Coupled with the image of their brittle legs, these encumbrances, noted for their phallic overtones, create a sense of phantom reality. “The elephant is a distortion in space,” one analysis explains, “its spindly legs contrasting the idea of weightlessness with structure.” “I am painting pictures which make me die for joy, I am creating with an absolute naturalness, without the slightest aesthetic concern, I am making things that inspire me with a profound emotion and I am trying to paint them honestly.” —Salvador Dalí, in Dawn Ades, Dalí and Surrealism.
The egg is another common Dalíesque image. He connects the egg to the prenatal and intrauterine, thus using it to symbolize hope and love; it appears in The Great Masturbator and The Metamorphosis of Narcissus. The Metamorphosis of Narcissus also symbolized death and petrification. Various animals appear throughout his work as well: ants point to death, decay, and immense sexual desire; the snail is connected to the human head (he saw a snail on a bicycle outside Freud’s house when he first met Sigmund Freud); and locusts are a symbol of waste and fear.
Endeavors outside painting
Dalí was a versatile artist. Some of his more popular works are sculptures and other objects, and he is also noted for his contributions to theatre, fashion, and photography, among other areas.
Two of the most popular objects of the surrealist movement were Lobster Telephone and Mae West Lips Sofa, completed by Dalí in 1936 and 1937, respectively. Surrealist artist and patron Edward James commissioned both of these pieces from Dalí; James inherited a large English estate in West Dean, West Sussex when he was five and was one of the foremost supporters of the surrealists in the 1930s. “Lobsters and telephones had strong sexual connotations for [Dalí],” according to the display caption for the Lobster Telephone at the Tate Gallery, “and he drew a close analogy between food and sex.” The telephone was functional, and James purchased four of them from Dalí to replace the phones in his retreat home. One now appears at the Tate Gallery; the second can be found at the German Telephone Museum in Frankfurt; the third belongs to the Edward James Foundation; and the fourth is at the National Gallery of Australia.
The wood and satin Mae West Lips Sofa was shaped after the lips of actress Mae West, whom Dalí apparently found fascinating. West was previously the subject of Dalí’s 1935 painting The Face of Mae West. Mae West Lips Sofa currently resides at the Brighton and Hove Museum in England.
Between 1941 and 1970, Dalí created an ensemble of 39 jewels. The jewels are intricate, and some contain moving parts. The most famous jewel, “The Royal Heart”, is made of gold and is encrusted with 46 rubies, 42 diamonds, and four emeralds and is created in such a way that the center “beats” much like a real heart. Dalí himself commented that “Without an audience, without the presence of spectators, these jewels would not fulfill the function for which they came into being. The viewer, then, is the ultimate artist.” (Dalí, 1959.) The “Dalí — Joies” (“The Jewels of Dalí”) collection can be seen at the Dalí Theater Museum in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, where it is on permanent exhibition.
In theatre, Dalí constructed the scenery for Federico García Lorca’s 1927 romantic play Mariana Pineda. For Bacchanale (1939), a ballet based on and set to the music of Richard Wagner’s 1845 opera Tannhäuser, Dalí provided both the set design and the libretto. Bacchanale was followed by set designs for Labyrinth in 1941 and The Three-Cornered Hat in 1949.
Dalí became intensely interested in film when he was young, going to the theatre most Sundays. He was part of the era where silent films were being viewed and drawing on the medium of film became popular. He believed there were two dimensions to the theories of film and cinema: “things themselves”, the facts that are presented in the world of the ; and “photographic imagination”, the way the shows the picture and how creative or imaginative it looks. Dalí was active in front of and behind the scenes in the film world. He created pieces of artwork such as Destino, on which he collaborated with Walt Disney. He is also credited as co-creator of Luis Buñuel’s surrealist film Un Chien Andalou, a 17-minute French art film co-written with Luis Buñuel that is widely remembered for its graphic opening scene simulating the slashing of a human eyeball with a razor. This film is what Dalí is known for in the independent film world. Un Chien Andalou was Dalí’s way of creating his dreamlike qualities in the real world. Images would change and scenes would switch, leading the viewer in a completely different direction from the one they were previously viewing.
The second film he produced with Buñuel was entitled L’Age d’Or, and it was performed at Studio 28 in Paris in 1930. L’Age d’Or was “banned for years after fascist and anti-Semitic groups staged a stink bomb and ink-throwing riot in the Paris theater where it was shown.” Although negative aspects of society were being thrown into the life of Dalí and obviously affecting the success of his artwork, it did not hold him back from expressing his own ideas and beliefs in his art. Both of these films, Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or, have had a tremendous impact on the independent surrealist film movement. “If Un Chien Andalou stands as the supreme record of Surrealism’s adventures into the realm of the unconscious, then L’Âge d’Or is perhaps the most trenchant and implacable expression of its revolutionary intent.”
Dalí also worked with other famous filmmakers, such as Alfred Hitchcock. The most well-known of his film projects is probably the dream sequence in Hitchcock’s Spellbound, which heavily delves into themes of psychoanalysis. Hitchcock needed a dreamlike quality to his film, which dealt with the idea that a repressed experience can directly trigger a neurosis, and he knew that Dalí’s work would help create the atmosphere he wanted in his film. He also worked on a documentary called Chaos and Creation, which has a lot of artistic references thrown into it to help one see what Dalí’s vision of art really is. He also worked on the Disney short film production Destino.
Completed in 2003 by Baker Bloodworth and Roy E. Disney, it contains dreamlike images of strange figures flying and walking about. It is based on Mexican songwriter Armando Dominguez’ song “Destino”. When Disney hired Dalí to help produce the film in 1946, they were not prepared for the work that lay ahead. For eight months, they continuously animated until their efforts had to come to a stop when they realized they were in financial trouble. They had no more money to finish the production of the animated film; however, it was eventually finished and shown in various film festivals. The film consists of Dalí’s artwork interacting with Disney’s character animation. Dalí completed only one other film in his lifetime, Impressions of Upper Mongolia (1975), in which he narrated a story about an expedition in search of giant hallucinogenic mushrooms. The imagery was based on microscopic uric acid stains on the brass band of a ballpoint pen on which Dalí had been urinating for several weeks.
Dalí built a repertoire in the fashion and photography industries as well. In fashion, his cooperation with Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli is well-known, where Dalí was hired by Schiaparelli to produce a white dress with a lobster print. Other designs Dalí made for her include a -shaped hat and a pink belt with lips for a buckle. He was also involved in creating textile designs and bottles. In 1950, Dalí created a special “costume for the year 2045” with Christian Dior. Photographers with whom he collaborated include Man Ray, Brassaï, Cecil Beaton, and Philippe Halsman.
With Man Ray and Brassaï, Dalí photographed nature; with the others, he explored a range of obscure topics, including (with Halsman) the Dalí Atomica series (1948)—inspired by his painting Leda Atomica — which in one photograph depicts “a painter’s easel, three cats, a bucket of water, and Dalí himself floating in the air.”
References to Dalí in the context of science are made in terms of his fascination with the paradigm shift that accompanied the birth of quantum mechanics in the twentieth century. Inspired by Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, in 1958 he wrote in his “Anti-Matter Manifesto”:
“In the Surrealist period, I wanted to create the iconography of the interior world and the world of the marvelous, of my father Freud. Today, the exterior world and that of physics has transcended the one of psychology. My father today is Dr. Heisenberg.”
In this respect, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, which appeared in 1954, in hearkening back to The Persistence of Memory, and in portraying that painting in fragmentation and disintegration summarizes Dalí’s acknowledgment of the new science.
Architectural achievements include his Port Lligat house near Cadaqués, as well as the Dream of Venus surrealist pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, which contained within it a number of unusual sculptures and statues. His literary works include The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942), Diary of a Genius (1952–63), and Oui: The Paranoid-Critical Revolution (1927–33).
The artist worked extensively in the graphic arts, producing many etchings and lithographs. While his early work in printmaking is equal in quality to his important paintings as he grew older, he would sell the rights to images but not be involved in the print production itself. In addition, a large number of unauthorized fakes were produced in the eighties and nineties, thus further confusing the Dalí print market. He took a stab at industrial design in the 1970s with a 500-piece run of the upscale Suomi tableware by Timo Sarpaneva that Dalí decorated for the German Rosenthalporcelain maker’s Studio Linie.
One of Dalí’s most unorthodox artistic creations may have been an entire person. At a French nightclub in 1965, Dalí met Amanda Lear, a fashion model then known as Peki D’Oslo. Lear became his protégé and muse, writing about their affair in the authorized biography My Life With Dalí (1986). Transfixed by the mannish, larger-than-life Lear, Dalí masterminded her successful transition from modeling to the music world, advising her on self-presentation and helping spin mysterious stories about her origin as she took the disco-art scene by storm. According to Lear, she and Dalí were united in a “spiritual marriage” on a deserted mountaintop. Referred to as Dalí’s “Frankenstein,” some believe Lear’s name is a pun on the French “L’Amant Dalí,” or Lover of Dalí. Lear took the place of an earlier muse, Ultra Violet (Isabelle Collin Dufresne), who had left Dalí’s side to join The Factory of Andy Warhol.
Politics and personality
Salvador Dalí’s politics played a significant role in his emergence as an artist. In his youth, he embraced both anarchism and communism, though his writings account anecdotes of making radical political statements more to shock listeners than from any deep conviction. This was in keeping with Dalí’s allegiance to the Dada movement.
As he grew older his political allegiances changed, especially as the Surrealist movement went through transformations under the leadership of Trotskyist André Breton, who is said to have called Dalí in for questioning on his politics. In his 1970 book Dalí by Dalí, Dalí was declaring himself an anarchist and monarchist.
With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Dalí fled from fighting and refused to align himself with any group. Likewise, after World War II, George Orwell criticized Dalí for “scuttling off like a rat as soon as France is in danger” after Dalí prospered there for years: “When the European War approaches he has one preoccupation only: how to find a place which has good cookery and from which he can make a quick bolt if danger comes too near.” In a notable 1944 review of Dalí’s autobiography, Orwell wrote, “One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dalí is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being.”
After his return to Catalonia after World War II, Dalí became closer to the authoritarian Franco regime. Some of Dalí’s statements supported the Franco regime, congratulating Franco for his actions aimed “at clearing Spain of destructive forces.” Dalí, having returned to the Catholic faith and becoming increasingly religious as time went on, may have been referring to the Republican atrocities during the Spanish Civil War. Dalí sent telegrams to Franco, praising him for signing death warrants for prisoners. He even met Franco personally and painted a portrait of Franco’s granddaughter.
He also once sent a telegram praising the Conducător, Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu, for his adoption of a scepter as part of his regalia. The Romanian daily newspaper Scînteiapublished it, without suspecting its mocking aspect. One of Dalí’s few possible bits of open disobedience was his continued praise of Federico García Lorca even in the years when Lorca’s works were banned.
Dalí, a colorful and imposing presence in his ever-present long cape, walking stick, haughty expression, and upturned waxed mustache, was famous for having said that “every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí.” The entertainer Cher and her husband Sonny Bono, when young, came to a party at Dalí’s expensive residence in New York’s Plaza Hotel and were startled when Cher sat down on an oddly shaped sexual vibrator left in an easy chair. When signing autographs for fans, Dalí would always keep their pens. When interviewed by Mike Wallace on his 60 Minutes television show, Dalí kept referring to himself in the third person, and told the startled Mr. Wallace matter-of-factly that “Dalí is immortal and will not die.” During another television appearance, onThe Tonight Show, Dalí carried with him a leather rhinoceros and refused to sit upon anything else.
Salvador Dalí has been cited as major inspiration from many modern artists, such as Damien Hirst, Noel Fielding and Jeff Koons. Salvador Dali’s manic expression and moustache made him something of a Cult icon for the bizarre.