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Salvador Dalí

Dalí was a painter, sculptor, draftsman and lithographer. He also helped created films. The artist who called himself Salvador Dalí was born Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. His mother was an ardent Roman Catholic, who is said to have encouraged her son’s interest in art. Dalí had a brother, also named Salvador who had died nine months before the artist’s birth. The idea of his dead brother haunted Dalí throughout his life. Ramon Pichot,a painter and a friend of Dalí’s father, introduced the young Dalí to art.

Dalí studied at the Madrid Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. He started exhibiting almost immediately. Dalí met his life-long friends, Federico Garcia Lorca and Luis Buñuel while studying at the Academy.

In the late 1920s, Dalí became interested in Surrealism. In 1930, he wrote an article detailing his theory of the “paranoiac-critical method.” Dalí lived in France throughout the Spanish Civil War, from 1936 to 1939. He met Sigmund Freud in 1938 in London. Freud’s theories of the unconscious had a significant effect on Dalí’s art.

Dalí’s sympathy with the Third Reich resulted in his expulsion from the Surrealists. Dalí spent World War II in the United States. While in the United States, he wrote his autobiography and painted many portraits on commission. He returned to Spain in 1948. Dalí’s return to Spain prompted him to reaffirm his Catholic faith and develop stylistically.

Dalí’s wife Gala, a Russian, was Dalí’s most significant muse. Gala was also associated with artists Max Ernst, Louis Aragon, Andre Brenton and Paul Eluard.

Dalí’s last important exhibit during his lifetime was in 1979 at the Paris Centre Georges Pompidou. Dalí’s lifetime output was gigantic, and showed the influence not only of Surrealism, but also Abstract Expressionism, photographic realism, and Pop Art.

Dalí died on January 23, 1989. He is buried in the crypt below the stage of the Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain.