Salvador Dali


Salvador Dali was born in Figueres, Spain on May 11, 1904 to Salvador Dalí Cusí and Felipa Domènech Ferrés.  From an early age Dali was encouraged to practice his artistic skills.  In 1916 Dali attended Municipal Drawing School in Figueres.  In 1922, Dali enrolled at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid.  It was while he lived here that he started his eccentric style.   He was suspended for criticizing his teachers and staring a a riot.  He returned to the academy in 1926, but was permanently expelled shortly before his final exams for declaring that no member of the faculty was competent enough to examine him.  Dali traveled to Paris multiple times and met many artists that would inspire him in his own artwork.  He started his surrealistic movement in 1929.    In 1931, he  had his first individual exhibition at Galerie Pierre Colle in Paris, where he exhibited his work The Persistence of Memory.  Dali would use surrealism to create a reality from his dreams and subconscious thoughts. He changed reality to what he wanted it to be and not necessarily what it was, this became a way of life for him.


Salvador Dali experimented with many different materials and mediums in his artwork.  Dali was mostly know for his paintings, but he also participated in drawing, photography, printmaking, fashion, writing, film and sculpture.  When Dali painted using oil paints. When he painted he often used primed wood panel.  He would first sketch the painting with pencil or ink.  He combined his paints with a natural resin for greater fluidity and ease of application.

Context of Art

Salvador Dali's paintings became associated with three general themes: 1) man's universe and sensations, 2) sexual symbolism and 3) ideographic imagery.  Dali often would read Sigmund Freud and was apolitical.  Dali often used themes of eroticism, death, and decay.  His artwork reflected his familiarity with and synthesis of the psychoanalytical theories of his time.   Dali often pulled from his childhood memories and his artwork was full of symbolism ranging from fetishes and animal imagery to religious symbols.


Salvador Dali was influenced by both Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. Dali actually met both Picasso and Miro while he was in Paris, they were both well known artists at the time. A number of Dali’s pieces were greatly influenced but both Picasso and Miro.

Examples of Work

Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938.

Galatea of the Spheres, 1952.

Swans Reflecting Elephants, 1937.

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