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Salvador Dalí: 1904—1989: Artist - Dressed In Cape As Student

surrealist spain figueras movement

Admitted to the School of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1921, Dalí stood out from the crowd with outfits that included a cape and an oversized black felt hat. Yet, according to Time, his fellow students remembered him as "morbidly sick with timidity." In the 1920s Dalí experimented with many of the strains of European contemporary art of the day. He was expelled from the School of Fine Arts after refusing to take an exam. "I am sorry," he recalled saying (as quoted in Contemporary Authors), "but I am infinitely more intelligent than these … professors." In 1928 Dalí made his way to Paris, the center of European modernism at the time, and rapidly developed his wildly distinctive style after he allied himself with the surrealist movement.

Surrealism emphasized not only distortions of reality but also the power of unconscious, specifically sexual drives; the movement drew to some extent on the thinking of the Austrian founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Dalí rapidly became the movement's star attraction, producing canvases that seemed to mirror the most bizarre depths of his subconscious mind and yet rendering them with a technique that was exquisitely controlled and exact. With friend and fellow surrealist Luis Buñuel, Dalí made a major impact in 1929 with the film An Andalusian Dog, a short subject that featured such disturbing images as an eyeball being sliced open with a razor blade. By 1931, Dalí was creating works that have become icons of surrealism; the most famous of them all, the watch-filled landscape entitled The Persistence of Memory, was painted that year.

At a Glance . . .

Born Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech in Figueras, Spain, May 11, 1904; died January 23, 1989, in Figueras; married Gala Eluard, 1930. Education: Attended Marist Friars School, Figueras, 1914-18; attended San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts, Madrid, Spain, 1921-25. Religion: Roman Catholic.

Career: Worked as a book and magazine illustrator, Figueras, 1919-21; painted in Spain, first individual exhibition, Galería Dalmau, Barcelona, Spain, 1925; late 1920s; with Luis Buñuel made international impact with surrealist film An Andalusian Dog, 1929; moved to Paris, France, and became connected with surrealist movement, 1930; first U.S. exhibition, Julien Levy Gallery, New York, 1932; lived in Pebble Beach, CA, and New York City during World War II; returned to Spain, 1948; cultivated overtly religious style, late 1940s and 1950s; established Dalí Museum, Figueras, 1973; author of more than 15 books and pamphlets.

Many art critics consider Dalí's works of the 1930s his best. During that period he merged his surrealist sensibilities with a serious outlook that produced such masterpieces as Soft Construction with Boiled Beans—Premonition of the Spanish Civil War (1936); that work, centered on the image of a powerful god tearing itself to pieces, has been compared with Pablo Picasso's Spanish Civil War masterpiece, Guérnica. When war did break out, Dalí showed some sympathy with the fascist leadership of dictator Francisco Franco.

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over 3 years ago

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