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Who was Salvador Dali?

About Salvador Dali

 Salvador Dali

Spanish-born Salvador Dali was one of the most versatile painters of the 20th century.
From when he first painted a landscape in oil at age six through his late 70s, he continued a truly broad range of expressive activities including not just painting but also sculpture, prints, stage and fashion design, and film production.
Many people probably recall seeing one of Dali’s paintings in art textbooks or elsewhere: The Persistence of Memory, famous for its soft melting pocket watches.

Highly inquisitive, Dali studied and was influenced by earlier styles including impressionism, pointillism, and cubism.
During the 1930s, the surrealism movement was thriving, chiefly in Paris, and Dali too joined the movement.

Considering the main purpose of the pictorial arts to be the unmasking of dreams and deeply hidden desires, he produced numerous fantastic and irrational pictures. His best-known piece from this period is The Persistence of Memory.
His wife Gala provided behind-the-scenes support for these vigorous creative activities.

 Salvador Dali

Gala also posed as a model for many of his works. Their relationship was so strong that Dali declared, “Everybody except for Gala is an enemy” and “All of my pictures are drawn with Gala’s blood.” He later would become very famous, staging successful major retrospectives across Europe and in the United States and completing his own museum.

Dali’s words “One can become a genius by performing the role of genius” can be seen as a description of his wide-ranging expressive activities and his own way of life.

upper left:Salvador Dalí, 1954 lower right:Dalí Atomicus, 1948
Photo by Philippe Halsman © The Philippe Halsman Archive

Salvador Dali timeline

Note:Works in brackets《 》below are in the collection of the Museum.

Year Age Events
1904 - Born May 11 in Figueres, in northeastern Catalonia, Spain.
His father was a notary public.
1908 4 years Younger sister Anna Maria born.
1910 6 years Creates first oil painting (a landscape).
1914 10 years Enrolled in a school of the Order of St.
Mary’s. Extended his talents under the artistic influence of Ramon Pichot.
1917 13 years Taught by Juan Núñez, instructor at a woodblock print school, Dali is influenced by the impressionists and pointillists.
1918 14 years His works are exhibited at the Figueres Municipal Theatre.
Dali is inspired by Mariano Fortuny’s famous work Battle of Tetuan.
1921 17 years Dali enrolls in the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid.
He becomes friends with Federico García Lorca and Luis Buñuel. His mother Felipa dies.
1922 18 years In October, Dali exhibits his works as part of an exhibition by a group of students at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona.
He produces《Cabaret Scene》.
1923 19 years Dali’s influences during this period include the Italian painter de Chirico.
1924 20 years Dali is suspended from school for one year, accused of instigating student unrest. In May, he is incarcerated for short periods in Figueres and Gerona on suspicion of participating in anti-government activities.
1925 21 years Dali returns to school. He holds his first solo exhibition at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona in November.
Beginning around this time, his works reflect influences including Vermeer’s realism, Picasso’s neoclassicism, and cubism. He produces《Bread and Walnuts》.
1926 22 years Dali meets Picasso. In October he is expelled from school for refusing to submit his answers to an art history examination.
He holds his second solo exhibition at the Dalmau Gallery.
1927 23 years Dali reads Freud’s psychoanalysis. His works from this period also exhibit the influences of Paris’ surrealism.
1928 24 years Dali’s works including Basket of Bread and 《Anna Maria》are shown in an international art exhibit in Pittsburgh starting in October.
He resides in Paris through the following year.
Miro introduces him to the poets and artists of the surrealism group.
1929 25 years Paul Éluard and his wife Gala visited Dali at Cadaqués during the summer.
Dali fell in love with Gala, who would become his lifelong companion.
He produced the avant-garde film “An Andalusian Dog” together with Luis Buñuel, and it was shown in Paris. His first solo exhibition in Paris was held at the Gorman Gallery.
Dali had formally become a member of the surrealism movement, as André Breton wrote the foreword to the exhibition catalog.
1930 26 years Screening of “Age of Gold,” a film Dali produced with Buñuel, was banned.
Dali began painting double images, influenced by the Spanish architect Gaudí, the Dutch artist Vermeer, and others.
1931 27 years Dali began painting the works including soft timepieces, such as The Persistence of Memory.
1932 28 years Dali painted a series of works on the theme of Millet’s The Angelus.
He produced《Surrealist Object that Functions Symbolically》.
1933 29 years Dali held his first solo exhibition in the United States, in New York.
1934 30 years Dali held his first solo exhibition in London. He was no longer considered a part of the surrealism group. He visited America for the first time, with Gala.
1936 32 years Dali produced《Venus de Milo with Drawers》.
The Spanish Civil War broke out in July. Dali gave a speech in a diving suit at an international surrealism exhibition in London.
1937 33 years Dali travelled to Italy to escape the civil war. Eight of his works were introduced in the Japanese arts journal Mizue.
1938 34 years Dali meets Freud in London.
1939 35 years Dali writes scripts for ballets and other performances and designs the costumes and stage designs.
1941 37 years Dali’s first major retrospective is held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
1942 38 years His autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, is published.
1944 40 years His first novel, Hidden Faces, is published.
1945 41 years Dali is shocked by the news of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
1946 42 years Dali illustrates Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
1947 43 years Dali paints《The Three Sphinxes of Bikini》on the theme of the nuclear bomb tests on Bikini Atoll.
1948 44 years Port Lligat welcomes Dali back from America.
He begins creating classical and religious works.
1949 45 years He paints The Madonna of Port Lligat, with Gala as his model, and presents the work to Pope Pius XII.
1951 47 years Dali paints《Portrait of Mrs. Jack Warner》.
1952 48 years Dali produces 100 illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy.
1955 51 years Dali paints The Last Supper.
He lectures at the Sorbonne on the topic “Phenomenological Aspects of the Paranoid Critical Transformation Method.”
1957 53 years Dali produces《Dance》and the lithograph《Don Quixote》, which employs a method known as bulletism.
1958 54 years Dali and Gala renew their marriage vows in a religious ceremony.
1962 58 years Dali paints《The Battle of Tetuan》.
1963 59 years The Tragic Myth of Millet's Angelus is published in Paris.
An exhibition of Dali’s works is held at the Knoedler Gallery in New York. Dali creates Portrait of My Dead Brother.
1964 60 years Dali retrospectives are held in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kyoto. Diary of a Genius is published.
The King of Spain awards Dali the Order of Isabella the Catholic.
1967 63 years Dali produces《Swan-Elephant》.
1968 64 years Books of《Carmen》and the《Marquis de Sade》with illustrations by Dali are published.
1970 66 years 生Construction begins on the Dali Theatre and Museum in his home town of Figueres.
1971 67 years The Salvador Dali Museum opens in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
1972 68 years The first exhibition of Dali’s three-dimensional works is held at the Knoedler Gallery in New York.
An exhibition of Dali’s prints is held in Tokyo. Dali gifts the Castle of Púbol near Barcelona to his wife Gala.
1974 70 years The Dali Theatre and Museum opens in Figueres.
1975 71 years Dali’s works are shown in the exhibition Surrealism held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
1977 73 years Dali creates《Snail and the Angel》and《The Profile of Time》.
1978 74 years Dali’s first stereoscopic work Dalí Lifting the Skin of the Mediterranean Sea to Show Gala the Birth of Venus is exhibited at an art museum in New York.
1979 75 years The first major retrospective of Dali’s work in France is held at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
1980 76 years Dali produces works including《Space Elephant》and《Woman in Flames》.
1982 78 years The king of Spain awards Dali the Grand Cross.
Dali’s wife Gala dies. Weary and in mourning, Dali retires to the Castle of Púbol.
1984 80 years Dali’s entire body is burned in a fire. He is hospitalized at the Barcelona Municipal Hospital.
1989 84 years Museum in his home town of Figueres.