Salvador Dalí Domenech

1904 - 1989 (Figueres, España)

Salvador Dalí

Top painters
Pablo Picasso
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He was born on 11th of May in1904 at 8:45 in the morning in the town of Figueres, Girona, as Salvador, Domingo, Felipe, Dalí Jacinth, son of Salvador Dalí i Cusí, notary, and Felipa Doménech. He was born three years after the death of his first-born brother, caused by a meningitis when he was only seven years old. The given name, Salvador, used to have his dead brother who looked like painter' s twin. „The young patient“ is the title of his first self-portrait, painted at the age of ten years. Shortly after Salvador began his first drawing course with Juan Núñez with whom he learned the use of chiaroscuro.

He was admitted at the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando (Madrid) in 1921, from where he was expelled, accused of subversion anarchist; he was arrested and he passed a short period in the jail, in Girona (1923). After being readmitted, definitively Salvador was expelled in 1926 because of his eccentricity. It is said that when he was during an examination requested to speak about Rafael, Dalí responded to the court: “It is impossible for me to speak of that subject in front of the three professors, because I know much more about Rafael than all of you.”

The following year Dalí met Picasso in Paris, and ten years later, in London, Stefan Zweig presented Sigmund Freud to him. He met Luis Buñuel and García Lorca in Madrid in 1923. With Buñuel he made the staging of “The Andalusian dog” and collaborated, in the second period, on the L´age d´or. However, with García Lorca he had a very intimate friendship, how he proved in the tight correspondence maintained between 1925 and 1936. Until that moment, Dalí had not loved anybody in this form. During his years in Paris, he acquired the characteristics of the surrealism. His works in this period (1930) are inspired by the theories of Freud.


Dalí met Helena Diakonova (Gala), daughter of a Russian lawyer and companion of the surrealist poet Paul Eluard in 1930. He saw her for the first time on the terrace of the Miramar hotel, in Cadaqués, next to her husband. They met the following morning, on the beach. Dalí decided to prepare himself for the encounter in a totally symbolic way. The clothes rolled up to emphasize the bronzed body. He wore necklace of pearls and put a red geranium behind the ear. He hurt himself while shaving his armpit and he smeared his body with his own blood, to which he added a mixture of fish glue, dung of goat and oil. Few months later, deeply in love, they went away to live together. From that moment, Gala started to be for Dalí his lover, friend, muse and model (she appeared for the first time in profile, in “The Great Masturbator” in 1929).

The sea

At the beginning of World War II, Salvador Dalí and Gala settled down in the United States, where his painting of realistic and dreamy style was very successful. He wrote „The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí“ and he also worked for the cinema, the theater, the opera and the ballet. During the forties the most important works like the „Soft self-portrait with bacon fried“, „The bread basket“, „Leda Atomica” and the “Madonna of Portlligat“ are dated. In 1948 he turned one of the contemporary most famous painters and returned to live in Europe. He did long stays in his house and workroom in Portlligat.

The religion, history and science became, more and more, one of the thematic part of Dalí's works during the fifties and sixties; many of them were of the great format. During these years he painted very well-known works, like „Christo de San Juan de la Cruz“, „Galatea of the spheres“, „Corpus Hipercubicus“, „The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus“ and „The Last Supper“.

The Persistence of Memory

During the seventies Dalí created and inaugurated the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, where a great collection of his work is exposed, from the beginnings and creations within the surrealism to works of the last years of his life.

After living for many years in Portlligat, when his wife Gala died he moved to the Castle of Púbol and passed the last time of his life in Torre Galatea de Figueres, near the Dalí Theater-Museum, where he wanted to be buried.

He died on the 23rd of January in 1984 in the hospital of Figueras, at the age of 84 years. His corpse was embalmed and is buried in a tomb under the geodesic cupola which dominates his museum in Figueras.

Links - Salvador Dalí

Gallery of paintings of Salvador Dalí