"Knowing how to look is a way of inventing."
SALVADOR DALÍ SYNOPSIS
Salvador Dali is among the most versatile and prolific artists of the twentieth century. Though chiefly remembered for his painterly output, in the course of his long career he successfully turned to sculpture, printmaking, fashion, advertising, writing, and, perhaps most famously, filmmaking in his collaborations withand Alfred Hitchcock. Dali was renowned for his flamboyant personality as much as for his undeniable technical virtuosity. In his early use of organic morphology, his work bears the stamp of fellow Spaniards and . His paintings also evince a fascination for Classical and Renaissance art, clearly visible through his hyper-realistic style and religious symbolism of his later work. Dali is most often associated with the movement, despite his formal expulsion from the group in 1934 for his reactionary political views.
SALVADOR DALÍ KEY IDEAS
MOST IMPORTANT ART
TITLE: Honey is Sweeter than Blood (1927)
Artwork Description & Analysis: Dali's first surreal painting, Honey is Sweeter than Blood, shows a marked progression away from Cubism toward the depiction of subconscious obsessions. Dali's preoccupations with decadence, death, and immortality returned repeatedly in future works. This painting was made between Dali's first visits to Paris where he was socializing with artists who would found the Surrealist movement.
Oil on canvas
SALVADOR DALÍ BIOGRAPHY
Dali was born in Figueres, a small town outside Barcelona, to a prosperous family. His larger-than-life persona started early: aged 10, he had his first drawing lessons where he claimed that he manifested hysterical, rage-filled outbursts toward his family and playmates. Throughout his life, Dali retained his love for Catalan culture, and he depicted the landscape surrounding Figueres in several key paintings throughout his career. Dali entered the Madrid School of Fine Arts in 1921.
In Madrid, Dali experimented withand styles, but abandoned these techniques after he won a bet that he could "paint a prize-winning Pointillist picture by splashing paint at a canvas from a distance of three feet," (Soby, p.4). In 1920, Dali visited Paris where he became greatly interested in attempts to recreate motion and show objects from simultaneous, multiple angles. In exploring this style, Dali began to consider a means of dramatically reinterpreting reality and altering perception. He discovered the psychoanalytic concepts of Freud as well as metaphysical painters like , and consequently began using psychoanalytic methods of mining the subconscious to generate imagery. By the time he was expelled from the art academy in 1924, Dali was already exhibiting work locally, and had been adopted into a social circle that , Federico Garcia Lorca, and Maria Mallo.
In the latter 1920s, Dali was practicing
Dali ascribed to Breton's theory of automatism, and claimed he didn't know the meaning behind the symbols in his paintings. He credited his childhood as inspiration, urging artists to be skeptical of modern technology and to embrace intuitive, craft-based art-making techniques instead. As politics of war were at the forefront of Surrealist debates, Breton expelled Dali from the Surrealists in 1934 due to differing views on General Franco and fascism. In 1937, Dali moved to Italy, and practiced more traditional painting styles that drew on his love of canonized painters, like Gustave Courbet and Jan Vermeer, though his emotionally-charged themes and subjects remained as strange as ever.
Late Period and Death
In the 1940s and 1950s, Dali's paintings focused on religious themes reflecting his abiding interest in the supernatural. He aimed to portray space as a subjective reality, which may be why many of his paintings from this period show objects and figures at extremely foreshortened angles. He continued employing his "paranoiac-critical" method, which entailed working long, arduous hours in the studio and expressing his dreams directly on canvas in manic bouts of energy. In 1955, he returned to Spain and became quite reclusive, but continued to paint until his death in the 1980s. His paintings came to be increasingly likened to Renaissance masterworks. And, like a Renaissance artist, Dali had many other creative outlets: he designed jewelry, sets for theater, worked in fashion design, collaborated with Chanel, and much more. These endeavors led to further commercialization of his work, whose impact has been recently academically reassessed in several large-scale exhibitions.
SALVADOR DALÍ LEGACY
Dali's manner of revealing the gap between reality and illusion influenced all manner of modern artists. Beyond developing his own symbolic language, Dali elaborated a way to represent the inner mind. He is considered one of the major Surrealists who used shock and unease to illustrate moments of pleasure, and in this his work remains highly contemporary. Though some second generation Surrealists, like
SALVADOR DALÍ QUOTES
"There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad."
"I would awake at sunrise, and without washing or dressing sit down before the easel which stood right beside my bed. Thus the
first image I saw on awakening was the painting I had begun, as it was the last I saw in the evening when I retired . . . I spent
the whole day seated before my easel, my eyes staring fixedly, trying to 'see', like a medium (very much so indeed), the images
that would spring up in my imagination. Often I saw these images exactly situated in the painting. Then, at the point commanded
by them, I would paint, paint with the hot taste in my mouth that panting hunting dogs must have at the moment when they fasten
their teeth into the game killed that very instant by a well-aimed shot. At times I would wait whole hours without any such
images occurring. Then, not painting, I would remain in suspense, holding up one paw, from which the brush hung motionless, ready
to pounce again upon the oneiric landscape of my canvas the moment the next explosion of my brain brought a new victim of my
imagination bleeding to the ground."
>From Dalí's book, My Secret Life:
Salvador Dalí Influences
Interactive chart with Salvador Dalí's main influencers, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.