Salvador Dali (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989)
Salvador Dali, the most eccentric and extraordinary person in Spanish painting, was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain. His parents were very different. His father had a strict disciplinary approach to raising children that differed with that of his mother. She supported young Salvador in his art and weirdness. She believed in God, while Salvador’s father was an atheist. In his early childhood, the behavior and predilections of Salvador reflected his irresistible energy and eccentric character. Frequent whims and hysterics irritated Dali’s father, but his mother tried to find different ways to please her beloved son.
Many historians believe that Dali was named after his father, but that’s not entirely true. Although the father and the son had the same names, younger Salvador Dali was named after his brother, who died at the age of two. As a result, at the age of 5, he started to feel like the reincarnation of his dead brother and the echo of the past. Salvador had a sister as well who was born in 1908. Later, they became close friends.
At an early age, parents noticed how gifted their child was. Being 4 years old, Salvador was making huge efforts when trying to draw which was not typical for such a little child. At the age of six, Dali was attracted by the image of Napoleon and identified himself with a great conqueror. Dressed in a fancy dress of the king, Dali received a great pleasure looking like Napoleon. The first picture Salvador Dali drew when he was 10 years old. It was a small impressionistic landscape, painted on a wooden board with oil paints.
Dali’s highly sophisticated drawings made both of his parents support his artistic talent. They decided to build a small art studio for him before he went to an art school. Parents sent him to drawing school in 1916. Despite the fact that young Salvador was very intelligent, he wasn’t a diligent student at a school. Moreover, he looked bizarre wearing odd clothing and long hair, used to daydream in class and seemed weird to the classmates. Dali was incredibly talented, and at the age of 14, his paintings were at the exhibition in Figueres.
At the age of sixteen, Dali began to put his thoughts on paper. Painting and literature were an integral part of his creative life. In 1919, he published essays on Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Michelangelo, and Leonardo. The same year he participated in student disturbances and was put into jail.
In 1921, Salvador Dali went to Madrid and enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts. He did not like studying. He believed that he himself could teach his teachers the art of drawing. He remained in Madrid just because he enjoyed communicating with his comrades. He was close to a group of well-known artistic personalities where he met a filmmaker Luis Buñuel and poet Federico García Lorca.
In 1924, Dali was expelled from the academy due to his misbehavior. He returned there in a year, however, was expelled again and couldn’t get back. The reason for the expulsion was the rude answer to the professor on one of the exams. He was asked to name the three greatest artists in the world. Dali replied that he would not answer such questions because teachers from the academy had no rights to judge him.
Dali despised teachers all the time. By that time Salvador Dali had already had his solo exhibition, which was visited by Pablo Picasso himself. In the early 20’s, Dali was fascinated by the work of the Futurists, but he was determined to create his own style in painting. At this time, he had new friends and acquaintances.
Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuell were both captivated with Surrealism. As a result, a famous filmmaker released “Andalusian Dog,” a movie that had a surrealistic bias. Both men became icons of the surrealist absurd. In 1929, Dali officially became a surrealist.
The personal life of Salvador Dali did not have bright moments until 1929. In 1929, Dali fell in love with Elena Diakonova, also known as Gala. She was the wife of a famous writer Paul Eluard, but her relationship with her husband came to an end by that time. She was a woman who became the muse of Dali for the rest of his life. Gala lived the life of Dali, and he admired her. At one of his exhibitions in London, Dali decided to read a lecture in the suit of a diver and started suffocating. By actively gesticulating with his hands, he asked to remove his helmet. Luckily, the public took this as a joke.
In 1937, Dali visited Italy in order to know more about Renaissance painting. After an occupation in France, he went in the US, where he opened a new studio. It was the place where the great genius wrote one of his best books about his secret life. When this book was published, it received serious criticism from the press. In 1948, Salvador Dali returned to Spain. In 1953, he conducted a large retrospective exhibition of Salvador Dali in Rome. He presented 24 paintings, 27 drawings, and 102 watercolors.
In 1959, Dali and Gala built their own home in Port-Lligat. By that time, nobody doubted the talent of the great artist. His paintings were bought for a huge amount of money by fans and lovers of luxurious artworks. The huge canvases created by Dali in the 60’s were very expensive. A lot of millionaires thought it was trendy to have a picture of Salvador Dali in their collections. At the end of the 60s, the relationship between Dali and Gala were ruined. Gala asked Dali to buy her a castle, where she could enjoy the company of young people.
At the age of 80, Dali contracted some serious health problems. Doctors suspected that Dali had Parkinson’s disease. The muse of his life, Gala, died on July 10, 1982. Her death was devastating for a great artist. By the end of 1983, his mood seemed to be better. He walked in the garden and tried to paint. However, old age prevailed over his ingenious mind. On August 30, 1984, the house of Dali was burned. Burns on the artist’s body covered 18% of the skin.
By February 1985, Dali’s well-being had somewhat got better, and he was able to give an interview to the largest Spanish newspaper, Pais. In November 1988, Dali was hospitalized due to serious heart problems. The heart of Salvador Dali stopped on January 23, 1989. His body was dangled as he requested, and laid in his museum in Figueres for a week. Thousands of people came to say goodbye to a great genius. Salvador Dali was buried in the center of his museum under an unmarked plate. Salvador Dali is called the great genius of surrealism of the 20th century.