Who was Salvador Dalí?
The Spanish artist Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) is one of the best known painters around the world for his work with the surrealism movement, framed in the vanguards of the 1920s. His works, with a peculiar aesthetic and plastic quality, express thoughts from the artist's own unconscious, from everyday elements that are transformed, such as melted clocks or extraordinary animals. Throughout his career, he was a writer, actor, filmmaker, illustrator, and cultivated his eccentric personality, through his behavioral and physical characteristics, such as his famous mustache and his pet an anteater (ant-eater).
Salvador Dalí's youth
From an early age, Salvador Dalí showed his taste and talent for the fine arts, being driven by his family to take drawing lessons at the age of 10. The artist's first paintings often depicted his sister, the town where Figueres was born and Cadaques where they spent their holidays. The influence of the impressionist movement in his works is denoted, examples of which are the paintings Boat (Commercial Sailboat Riding at Anchor in the bay of Cadaqués) (1919) and Tieta - Portrait of my Aunt (1920). In 1922, he began his studies in painting, sculpture and engraving at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in São Fernando.
Portrait of Luis Buñuel by Salvador Dalí , 1924
Exponent of surrealism
The paintings in Basket of bread (1926) and the portrait of Luis Buñuel (1924) mark the passage to hyper-realism, consequently fundamental for his surrealist works that represent the elements in a concrete way and with an illusion of reality. Throughout his university years and later, Salvador was inspired by Cubism, Dadaism, Futurism and began to study Freud's psychoanalytic concepts, Giorgio de Chirico's metaphysical art paintings and Joan Miró's surrealists. Thus emerged the first paintings that reinterpret reality and alter perception, such as Honey Is Sweeter than Blood (1927), Apparatus and Hand (1927) and Little Cinders (1927-1928). In 1929, he was invited by André Breton to join the surrealist group, thus meeting Gala, the muse of his life and wife, who had a notorious influence on Salvador Dalí until the end of his days. In the early 1930s, he created his paranoid critical method as a new practice of artistic creation.
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí , 1931
Cultivating self-induced psychotic hallucinations, paintings such as The Persistence of Memory (1931) emerged with clocks melted like cheese, "the camembert of time", according to Salvador Dalí . In this work, time loses its meaning in a serene landscape that is in decay. Ants, a common element in the artist's works, attack a gold clock, while an animal figure, positioned in the center of the painting, rests with a clock on top. As this creative method was influenced by Sigmund Freud, the artist decided to pay tribute to the creator of psychoanalysis in his painting Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) (1936), by depicting him analyzing a hand, in the lower left corner. This devastating landscape work depicts the civil war between the right-wing nationalist forces of Francisco Franco and the elected republic, with details of swapped limbs demonstrating the horror of death and this armed conflict.
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) by Salvador Dalí, 1936
At the end of the decade, he ended up distancing himself from the surrealist group due to political differences, ending up spending some years in the United States of America, mainly in New York and California. He participated in some Hollywood movies and continued to paint intensely. At this point, he created the canvas Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944) which depicts Gala, Salvador Dalí's muse, sleeping naked on a rock in a seascape. In the painting, beside Gala, there are two drops of water, a pomegranate and a floating bee, and at the top of the canvas an exploding pomegranate, from which a fish emerges from whose mouth two fierce tigers emerge with a weapon that in a second you will wake up Gala. Finally, at the bottom on the right side there is an elephant-like figure walking around. Later, we again see creatures identical to these in The Temptation of Santo Antao (1946), among other works.
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening by Salvador Dalí , 1944
Salvador Dalí's legacy
In 1948, Salvador Dalí eventually returned to Europe, living in a Castle in Puból, on the coast of Catalonia. In the following decades, he continued the internationalization of his work, having several retrospective exhibitions around the world. The last few years began a mystical and atomic era, in which he sought the reason for his work in the third dimension. Examples of this are canvases such as the Hallucinogenic Bullfighter (1968-1970) and Lincoln in Dalivision (1976).
The 1970s were marked by the opening of the Dalí museums, in Figueras and in the United States of America. The following years represented the decadence of the painter, due to the physical and spiritual crisis, he stopped painting when Gala died and his castle burned. In 1989, Salvador Dalí died, leaving behind a large repertoire of surrealist works that still influence artists in the various spheres of contemporary visual arts. Throughout his long career, the Spanish artist explored the ability to cross different media, from fine art to fashion and jewelry, in order to spread his pieces, making them more accessible to the public. Today this is a common practice, an example of which is the architect Frank Gehry designing rings and necklaces for the Tiffany brand. In addition to his works, his extroverted image with a long mustache made him an easily recognizable cultural icon. On P55 there are several pieces by Salvador Dalí, from graphic works to ceramics, which express the unconscious thoughts of the artist himself, through the fantastic figures that have become common in his artistic legacy.