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Salvador Dali and His Art

       Dawn Ades wrote the book Dali. She is a professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Essex. Salvador Dali wrote, painted, sculptured and played a role in film production. He is one of the best known and recognized artists of the twentieth century.

       From Ades book, I learned that Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali Domenech was born on May, 11, 1904 in Figueras Province of Catalonia, Spain. Dali had a brother who died in 1901 from gastroenteritis; his name was Salvador. Dali was named Salvador after his brother. In 1908, Anna Maria, his sister, was born. Dali’s father was an atheist, Republican lawyer, and wanted Dali to have an academic or an official career. When Dali was ten years old, he made some drawings. His father’s friend Ramon Pichot, who knew Pablo Picasso, encouraged Dali to keep drawing. In 1921, Dali’s mother died from cancer. Later, he was suspended from the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts for inciting a student rebellion against school authorities. At the age of 22, Dali liked to dress well and expensively. He used glue on his hair rather than brilliantine. He wore long black hair, was skinny, and he started to grow the mustache that years later would be his particular characteristic. In the same year, he went to Paris for the first time and visited Picasso. Dali started painting portraits of his family and friends.

       In 1922, Dali painted his first famous painting called “The First Days of Spring.” His friend Ramon Pichot died in 1925. When Dali was 25, he met Gala Elvard, wife of the French poet Paul Elvard. Dali and Gala become lovers. She divorced her husband and married Dali in 1934 in Paris. Dali painted “Accommodations of Desire” in honor of Gala.

       Dali’s work was labeled as Surrealism. Surrealism is an artistic movement that is based on images produced by the unconscious. These images are spontaneous and created by the artist’s mind. Dali had many strange dreams. He dreamed about Sigmund Freud, Hitler and Lenin. After he had a dream of Lenin; Dali painted “The Enigma of William Tell” in 1933. After Dali had dreams about Hitler, sometimes of Hitler as a woman, Dali painted “The Enigma of Hitler” in 1937. Dali put one of his paintings “Dismal Sport” on an easel at the end of his bed, so that it was the last thing he saw before he went to sleep and the first thing when he woke up. “I spent the whole day seated before my easel, my eyes staring fixedly, trying to see, like a medium the images that would spring up in my imagination” (Ades 74).

       Dali left for the United States in 1940. He was well supported by Caresse Crosby. Crosby wrote “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.” During his stay in the United States; he painted portraits of many members of society. In the 1940’s, Dali had many exhibits showing his sculptures and surrealistic objects. His most famous art pieces were “The Lobster Telephone” and “The Living Flower.” Between 1944 and 1946; Dali designed costumes for three ballet companies, and he also created a series of jewels for Carlos Alemany and the Duke de Verdura. Dali worked with Walt Disney on an animated film called Destino. This film was never released. Dali’s father died in 1960.

       In 1974, Teatro Museo Dali is inaugurated in Figueras, Spain. One year later Dali made the film Impressions from Upper Mognolia, produced by German television. In 1982, the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida is inaugurated, exhibiting Dali’s most famous work. In the same year, his wife Gala died. In 1983, Dali painted his last painting “The Swallow’s Tail.” Salvador Dali died on January 23, 1989. In his will; he left his entire fortune and works to be divided by Madrid and Figueras, Spain. His sister, Anna Maria died in the same year on May. His last wish was to be buried in a crypt in the Teatro Museo Dali in Spain.

       After I read the book Dali by Dawn Ades where she writes about the personal and artistic life of Salvador Dali, I have the impression that Dali was a talented artist. His personal problems and dreams in some way helped Dali created his art. One thing is true, that his art is well known and valuable around the world.

Accommodations of Desire The Living Flower The Enigma of Hitler The Lobster Telephone Dismal Sport The First Days of Spring The Swallow's Tail The Enigma of William Tell
Salvador Dali