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Salvador Dalí: 1904—1989: Artist Biography

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Salvador Dalí: 1904—1989: Artist.

Surrealism was a European artistic movement that extended into film, fiction, poetry, and other arts in addition to its primary medium of painting. Nevertheless, in the public mind surrealism is identified above all with one towering figure: the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí. With a series of dreamlike works executed in the late 1920s and 1930s (including the landscape filled with drooping watches that has become the surrealist image par excellence), Dalí mesmerized not only art enthusiasts but also the general public on both sides of the Atlantic. Even as modern art moved toward increasingly abstract and arcane languages, Dalíremained a public figure for much of his long life.

Born the son of a notary in the Catalan-region town of Figueras (now known by its Catalonian spelling of Figueres) on May 11, 1904, Dalí attended religious schools. From the beginning he had a strong imagination that tended toward the bizarre, and, if his sometimes-suspect autobiographical writings are to be believed, an occasional masochistic streak. As a child, Dalí would sometimes throw himself down a flight of stairs to get his parents' attention. His artistic gifts manifested themselves from the start, and he completed some substantial religious paintings before reaching his tenth birthday.

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