Salvador Dali: One of a kind
Persistence of Time
The name most associated with the Surrealist movement is “Salvador Dali.” Born in Northern Spain in 1904, he was the son of a notary. His parents noticed his talent when he was young and were able to enroll him in drawing classes at age ten. His teacher was Ramon Pichot, an impressionist painter who was well known. When he was twenty three his father bought him a printing press. Dali always knew he was a genius, he was enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid and was expelled twice for refusing to take exams: it was Dali’s belief that he was more qualified than the teachers and therefore they should not examine him.
In 1928 Dali went to Paris after he had been expelled from school. There he met Pablo Picasso and Jean Miro. He became part of a group of artists that included Andre Breton, who was the master of this group that eventually became known as the surrealists. It was then that Dali found his voice and his style. The cornucopia of images in the realm of the subconscious, the dream state, was Dali’s subject: melting clocks, giraffes on fire and giant heads growing out of the desert became Dali’s trademarks. Together with Dali’s flawless photographic technique, these works were spectacular and made Dali a success. Today those are among his most famous paintings.
Dali was also known for his flamboyant personal style and fascist political views- it was over politics that he and Andre Breton, who had been once his mentor, had a falling out. He was also open about how much he wanted to gain financially from his art- many artists did not agree with him. This combined with his political views- consequently, Salvador had few artist friends.
In the 1930’s Dali met Gala, a Russian woman who changed his life. Not only did they become a couple and eventually marry in 1934, but Gala was instrumental in managing Dali’s’ burgeoning career. In 1933 Dali visited the United States (with money borrowed from his friend, Picasso). He had a show in New York and became a celebrity. Back home, jealous artists such as Breton nicknamed him “Avida Dollars’ (‘greedy for dollars’) because of the high prices Dali was receiving for his work.
Dali eventually settled in New York, and to avoid the Second World War, he chose America as his permanent residence n 1940. In 1948 he and Gala returned to Europe. He became interested in science, religion and history and his subsequent change of style was reflected in his work.
Dali is the only artist to have museums named after him in his lifetime, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain.
Dali died in 1989 and leaves behind a tremendous legacy: not is he only master of the surrealist movement, but his enormous body of work is evidence of his incredible imagination and drive.
By Melissa Montgomery