Salvador Dali

Nationality: Spanish

Birth Year: 1904

Death Year: 1989

Specialities: Modern Art


Salvador Dalí has become synonymous with surrealism. The image of Dali, with his trademark quirky moustache, is one of the most easily recognized artist portraits. The enigmatic Spanish artist used different mediums in his lifetime, including sculpture, photography and film, and predominantly used symbolism as a tool in his art.

Early Life

Salvador Dalí was born in Figueres in the Catalonia region of Spain, on May 11, 1904. His father, Salvador Dalí i Cusí was a lawyer and notary, with a strict approach in raising children, very different from his mother, Felipa Domenech Ferrés. Dalí’s spent his childhood in the Spanish villages of Figueres and Cadaques. He displayed a talent for art while still very young, and was encouraged by both his parents who arranged for him to take classes with the Spanish Impressionist painter Ramón Pichot. Dalí’s first public exhibition was held in 1919, when the artist was just 14 years old, at the Municipal Theatre of Figueres. He was influenced by classical painters like the Renaissance master Raphael and the Spanish artist Diego Velazquez.

In 1922, Dalí enrolled at Madrid’s Academia de San Fernando. He attracted attention for his looks and the way he dressed, and soon became known among the students because of his experiments with Cubism and Dada. Dalí’s understanding of Cubism at the time probably came from magazines, as there were no Cubists living in Madrid. He was thrown out of the Academia in 1926 before acquiring a degree, for stirring unrest among the students and claiming that no member of the faculty was qualified to examine him. Dalí’s first solo exhibition was held in Barcelona in 1925.


Between 1926 and 1929, Dalí made many trips to Paris. He met Pablo Picasso, who had a strong influence on his art, in1928. Three of Dalí’s works were exhibited at the Carnegie International Exhibition the same year. André Breton, Joan Miró and Rene Magritte formally introduced him to Surrealism, a style of painting that drew from Sigmund Freud’s theory of unconsciousness – a juxtaposition of the dream state and reality – to create art. Dalí also collaborated with Luis Buñuel on the films “Un Chien andalou” (“An Andalusian Dog”) and “L'Age d'or” (“The Golden Age”) in 1929.

Dalí painted “The Persistence of Memory” (also known as “Soft Watches”), one of his best-known works and a significant Surrealist piece, in 1931. In 1934, the art dealer Julian Levy introduced him to America with an exhibition in New York. Dalí was as colorful in life as in his art and arrived wearing a glass case containing a brassiere at a ball hosted in New York for the occasion. Though his work was being recognized across Europe and North America, his personal life and flamboyant appearance often created controversy.

Unlike many Surrealists who gradually began associating with Leftist politics, Dalí remained ambiguous about his views on politics and art. In 1934, Dalí was expelled from the Surrealist group for, among other things, refusing to denounce fascism, which was becoming a dominant force across Europe at the time. He maintained that his art was apolitical. However he continued to exhibit with the Surrealists throughout the 1930s.

The Second World War and After

During the Second World War, Dalí and his wife Gala fled to the United States. They returned to live in Catalonia in 1948. New York’s Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of Dalí’s work in 1941 and the following year, the artist wrote his autobiography, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí.”

Dalí moved into his classical phase in the 1950s, painting 19 works with religious, scientific and historical themes. Through the 1960s and early 1970s, he focused on building the Teatro-Museo Dalí (Dalí Theatre-Museum) in Figueres.

Personal Life

Dalí was close to his mother who encouraged not only his interest in the arts but also his frequently eccentric behavior. He had a difficult relationship with his father and the two continued to have strong disagreements. After the death of Dalí’s mother Felipa, his father married Felipa’s younger sister.

Dalí met Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova, the wife of Surrealist writer Paul Éluard in 1929. Diakonova, also known as Gala, was 10 years older than him and they soon developed a relationship. The two would marry in 1934 and Gala became Dalí’s muse as well as the manager of his professional affairs.

Later Life

In his later life, Dalí was prevented from painting by a motor disorder that he developed in 1980. After the death of Gala Dalí in 1982, he moved to a castle in Pubol, which he had gifted to Gala. In 1984, he suffered severe burns in a fire and was subsequently confined to a wheelchair, which led to his return to Figueres. Dalí died of heart failure on January 23, 1989.

Born:May 11, 1904


See his work at:

FLORIDA: The Dalí Museum

ISTANBUL: Sakıp Sabancı Museum

NEW YORK: Museum of Modern Art

PARIS: Espace Dalí

PHILADELPHIA: Philadelphia Museum of Art

Writing:“The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí”

Died:January 23, 1989

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 Henry III by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Henry III

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Thomaston

August 29, 2015

$650  USD

 My Ambition by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

My Ambition

James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield

August 26, 2015

$371  USD

 Auvergne by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Auvergne, New York

August 26, 2015


 Divine Comedy (Hell - Canto 32) by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Divine Comedy (Hell - Canto 32), New York

August 26, 2015


 Divine Comedy - Paradise Canto 14 by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Divine Comedy - Paradise Canto 14, New York

August 26, 2015


 Divine Comedy: Inferno Canto 27 by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Divine Comedy: Inferno Canto 27, New York

August 26, 2015


 La Transfigurazione from Les Vitraux by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

La Transfigurazione from Les Vitraux, New York

August 25, 2015

$1,500  USD

 The Return of Ulysses (Choir of Angels Dancing a Sardana) by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

The Return of Ulysses (Choir of Angels Dancing a S

New Orleans Auction Galleries, Inc., New Orleans

August 22, 2015

$430  USD

 Charon And The Crossing Of The Acheron (from The Inferno: Canto 3) by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Charon And The Crossing Of The Acheron (from The I

Shapiro Art and Design, Sydney

August 19, 2015

$485  USD


Fashioning Identity in the American Counterculture Exhibition

By Michelle Tay | August 24, 2015

Often referred to as the hippie movement, the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s embraced an alternative lifestyle that rejected materialism and consumerism, and was essentially characterized...

Daum’s Artistic Glass Collaborations Coming Up at Espace Dali

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop | July 21, 2015

One thing that artists Arman, César, Richard Texier and Salvador Dali have in common is that they have all created art pieces for French crystal manufacturer Daum.Daum, variations d'artistes, on...

Lifestyle Pick: Artsy Vintage Couture Pieces Hit the Block June 23

By Michelle Tay | June 19, 2015

Kerry Taylor Auctions’ “Passion for Fashion” sale comprises the most art history- and fashion history-rich trove of garments to hit the block in recent memory.Taking place in London on June 23,...

K11 Art Foundation to Hold Dalí Show in Shanghai

By Darryl Jingwen Wee | June 16, 2015

SHANGHAI — The K11 Art Foundation has announced a partnership with the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in Figueres, Spain that will lead to the first exhibition of the legendary Surrealist painter...

Painting for the Label: Usher the Year of the Ram with Mouton Rothschild

By Nicholas Forrest | December 29, 2014

Wine connoisseurs have yet another reason to indulge in a bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild, with 2015 being the Chinese Year of the Ram (Sheep/Goat) – an animal that is also the emblem of...

Dali Inspires Graffiti Art in Paris

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | December 3, 2014

By Shirley HalsePARIS -- Salvador Dali has one of the most easily recognizable faces in recent history -- largely thanks to a rather fine example of facial hair.His work, too, is equally...

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"Daum, variations d'artistes'' at Espace Dali

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop | July 21, 2015

The Pierre Argillet Collection

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop | February 24, 2014


Daum, Variations D'Artistes

Sep 11, 2015 - Jan 3, 2016

Espace Salvador Dali, Paris

Modern Masters

Jan 22 - Jan 22, 2015

Auctionata, Inc., New York

Salvador Dali and Media

Oct 30, 2014 - Feb 1, 2015

Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow

Dada & Surrealist Objects

Oct 24, 2013 - Jan 17, 2014

Blain di Donna LLC, New York

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