“A TRUE ARTIST IS NOT ONE WHO IS INSPIRED, BUT ONE WHO INSPIRED OTHERS.”
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech as known as Salvador Dali was born in May 11, 1904 at Figueras, Spain. His father, Salvador Dalí y Cusi, was a middle class lawyer and notary.
Dalí had an older brother, born nine months before him, also named Salvador, who died of gastroenteritis. Along with his younger sister Ana Maria and his parents, often spent time at their summer home in the coastal village of Cadaques. At an early age, Dalí was producing highly sophisticated drawings, and both of his parents strongly supported his artistic talent. It was here that his parents built him an art studio before he entered art school.
In 1916, he went to drawing school at the the Colegio de Hermanos Maristas and the Instituto in Figueres, Spain. After that first year at art school, he discovered modern painting in Cadaques while vacationing with his family. There, he also met Ramon Pichot, a local artist who frequently visited Paris. The following year, his father organized an exhibition of Dalí's charcoal drawings in the family home. By 1919, the young artist had his first public exhibition, at the Municipal Theatre of Figueres.
In 1922, Dalí enrolled at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. While in school, Dalí began exploring many forms of art including classical painters like Raphael, Bronzino and Diego Velázquez (from whom he adopted his signature curled moustache). He also dabbled in avant-garde art movements such as Dada, a post-World War I anti-establishment movement. While Dalí's apolitical outlook on life prevented him from becoming a strict follower, the Dada philosophy influenced his work throughout his life.
In between 1926 and 1929, Dalí made several trips to Paris, where he met with influential painters and intellectuals such as Picasso, whom he revered. During this time, Dalí painted a number of works that displayed Picasso's influence. He also met Joan Miró, the Spanish painter and sculptor who, along with poet Paul Éluard and painter Magritte, introduced Dalí to Surrealism. By this time, Dalí was working with styles of Impressionism, Futurism and Cubism.
Dalí's paintings became associated with three general themes: 1) man's universe and sensations, 2) sexual symbolism and 3) ideographic imagery.
By 1930, Dalí had become a notorious figure of the Surrealist movement. Marie-Laure de Noailles and Viscount and Viscountess Charles were his first patrons. French aristocrats, both husband and wife invested heavily in avant-garde art in the early 20th century. One of Dalí's most famous paintings produced at this time—and perhaps the best-known Surrealist work—was The Persistence of Memory (1931). The painting, sometimes called Soft Watches, shows melting pocket watches in a landscape setting. It is said that the painting conveys several ideas within the image, chiefly that time is not rigid and everything is destructible.
Over the next 15 years, Dalí painted a series of 19 large canvases that included scientific, historical or religious themes. He often called this period "Nuclear Mysticism." During this time, his artwork took on a technical brilliance combining meticulous detail with fantastic and limitless imagination. He would incorporate optical illusions, holography and geometry within his paintings. Much of his work contained images depicting divine geometry, the DNA, the Hyper Cube and religious themes of Chastity.
From 1960 to 1974, Dalí dedicated much of his time to creating the Teatro-Museo Dalí (Dalí Theatre-Museum) in Figueres. The museum's building had formerly housed the Municipal Theatre of Figueres, where Dalí saw his public exhibition at the age of 14 (the original 19th century structure had been destroyed near the end of the Spanish Civil War). Located across the street from the Teatro-Museo Dalí is the Church of Sant Pere, where Dalí was baptized and received his first communion (his funeral would later be held there as well), and just three blocks away is the house where he was born.
The Teatro-Museo Dalí officially opened in 1974. The new building was formed from the ruins of the old and based on one of Dalí's designs, and is billed as the world's largest Surrealist structure, containing a series of spaces that form a single artistic object where each element is an inextricable part of the whole. The site is also known for housing the broadest range of work by the artist, from his earliest artistic experiences to works that he created during the last years of this life. Several works on permanent display were created expressly for the museum.
In 1980, Dalí was forced to retire from painting due to a motor disorder that caused permanent trembling and weakness in his hands. No longer able to hold a paint brush, he'd lost the ability to express himself the way he knew best. More tragedy struck in 1982, when Dalí's beloved wife and friend, Gala, died. The two events sent him into a deep depression. He moved to Pubol, in a castle that he had purchased and remodeled for Gala, possibly to hide from the public or, as some speculate, to die. In 1984, Dalí was severely burned in a fire. Due to his injuries, he was confined to wheelchair. Friends, patrons and fellow artists rescued him from the castle and returned him to Figueres, making him comfortable at the Teatro-Museo.
In November 1988, Dalí entered a hospital in Figueres with a failing heart. After a brief convalescence, he returned to the Teatro-Museo. On January 23, 1989, in the city of his birth, Dalí died of heart failure at the age of 84. His funeral was held at the Teatro-Museo, where he was buried in a crypt.
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