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Artists Salvador Dalí

Quotes

"When I paint, the sea roars. The others splash about in the bath."
Salvador Dalí
"There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad."
Salvador Dalí
"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings."
Salvador Dalí
"Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting vision."
Salvador Dalí
"Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing."
Salvador Dalí
"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
Salvador Dalí
"At the age of six I wanted to be a cook; at the age of seven Napoleon. Since then, my ambition has only grown"
Salvador Dalí
"Knowing how to look is a way of inventing."
Salvador Dalí
"I am a carnivorous fish swimming in two waters, the cold water of art and the hot water of science."
Salvador Dalí
"Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí, and I ask myself, wonderstruck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dalí."
Salvador Dalí
"The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot."
Salvador Dalí
"My supreme game is to imagine myself dead, devoured by worms. I close my eyes and, with incredible details of absolute, scatological precision, I see myself being slowly eaten and digested by an infernal swarm of large greenish maggots gorging themselves on my flesh."
Salvador Dalí
"The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant."
Salvador Dalí
"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."
Salvador Dalí
"Drawing is the honesty of art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad."
Salvador Dalí
"I don't do drugs. I am drugs."
Salvador Dalí
"It is with Dalí that, for the very first time, the windows of the mind are opened wide."
Andre Breton
"Dali has endowed Surrealism with an instrument of primary importance, in particular, the paranoiac critical method, which has immediately shown itself capable of being applied equally to painting, poetry, the cinema, to the construction of typical surrealist objects, to fashion, to sculpture, to the history of art, and even, if necessary, to all manner of exegesis."
Andre Breton

"The fact that I myself, at the moment of painting, do not understand my own pictures, does not mean that these pictures have no meaning; on the contrary, their meaning is so profound, complex, coherent, and involuntary that it escapes the most simple analysis of logical intuition."

Salvador Dalí Signature

Synopsis

Salvador Dalí is among the most versatile and prolific artists of the 20th century and the most famous Surrealist. 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 with Luis Buñuel and Alfred Hitchcock. Dalí was renowned for his flamboyant personality and role of mischievous provocateur as much as for his undeniable technical virtuosity. In his early use of organic morphology, his work bears the stamp of fellow Spaniards Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. 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.

Key Ideas

Freudian theory underpins Dalí's attempts at forging a visual language capable of rendering his dreams and hallucinations. These account for some of the iconic and now ubiquitous images through which Dalí achieved tremendous fame during his lifetime and beyond.
Obsessive themes of eroticism, death, and decay permeate Dalí's work, reflecting his familiarity with and synthesis of the psychoanalytical theories of his time. Drawing on blatantly autobiographical material and childhood memories, Dalí's work is rife with often ready-interpreted symbolism, ranging from fetishes and animal imagery to religious symbols.
Dalí subscribed to Surrealist André Breton's theory of automatism, but ultimately opted for his own self-created system of tapping the unconscious termed "paranoiac critical", a state in which one could simulate delusion while maintaining one's sanity. Paradoxically defined by Dalí himself as a form of "irrational knowledge," this method was applied by his contemporaries, mostly Surrealists, to varied media, ranging from cinema to poetry to fashion.

Biography

Salvador Dalí Photo

Childhood

Dalí was born in Figueres, a small town outside Barcelona, to a prosperous middle class family. The family suffered greatly before the artist's birth, because their first son (also named Salvador) died quickly. The young artist was often told that he is the reincarnation of his dead brother - an idea that surely planted various ideas in the impressionable child. His larger-than-life persona blossomed early alongside his interest in art. He is claimed to have manifested random, hysterical, rage-filled outbursts toward his family and playmates.

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Salvador Dalí Biography Continues

Important Art by Salvador Dalí

The below artworks are the most important by Salvador Dalí - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Un Chien Andalou (1927)
Artwork Images

Un Chien Andalou (1927)

Artwork description & Analysis: By the age of 24 Dalí had acquired an art education, been inspired by Picasso to practice his own interpretation of Cubism, and was beginning to utilize Surrealist concepts in his paintings. It was at this point that he joined film director Luis Buñuel to create something truly new - a film that radically veered from narrative tradition with its dream logic, non-sequential scenes, lack of plot and nod to Freudian free association.

Un Chien Andalou recreates an ethereal setting in which images are presented in montaged clips in order to jostle reality and tap the unconscious, shocking the viewer awake. For example, in this clip we find a glaring cow's eye in a woman's eye socket soliciting feelings of discomfort. In the scene that follows, a razor blade slashes said eye in extreme close-up.

The film turned out to be a sensation and gained Dalí entrance to the most creative group of Parisian artists at the time, The Surrealists. In fact, it's become known as the first Surrealist film yet remains paramount in the canon of experimental film to this day.

35mm Film - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Great Masturbator (1929)
Artwork Images

Great Masturbator (1929)

Artwork description & Analysis: Central to the piece is a large distorted human face looking down upon a landscape, a familiar rocky shoreline scene reminiscent of Dalí's home in Catalonia. A nude female figure representing Dalí's new-at-the-time muse Gala rises from the head, symbolic of the type of fantasy a man would conjure while engaged in the practice suggested by the title. Her mouth near a male's crotch suggests impending fellatio while he seems to be literally "cut" at the knees from which he bleeds, a sign of a stifled sexuality. Other motifs in the painting include a grasshopper - a consistent beacon for sexual anxiety in Dalí's work, ants - elusion to decay and death, and an egg - representing fertility.

The painting may represent Dalí's severely conflicted attitudes towards sexual intercourse and his lifelong phobia of female genitalia right at the cross section of meeting and falling in love with Gala. When he was a young boy, Dalí's father exposed him to a book of explicit photos demonstrating the horrific effects of venereal disease, perpetuating traumatic associations of sex with morbidity and rot in his mind. It is said that Dalí was a virgin when he met Gala and that he later encouraged his wife to have affairs to satisfy her sexual desires. Later in life when his paintings turned to religious and philosophical themes, Dalí would tout chastity as a door to spirituality. This piece has been compared to Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Oil on canvas - Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

The Persistence of Memory (1931)
Artwork Images

The Persistence of Memory (1931)

Artwork description & Analysis: This iconic and much-reproduced painting depicts the fluidity of time as a series of melting watches, their forms described by Dalí as inspired by a surrealist perception of Camembert cheese melting in the sun. The distinction between hard and soft objects highlights Dalí's desire to flip reality lending to his subjects characteristics opposite their usually inherent properties, an un-reality often found in our dreamscapes. They are surrounded by a swarm of ants hungry for the organic processes of putrefaction and decay of which Dalí held unshakable fascination. Because the melting flesh at the painting's center resembles Dalí, we might see this piece as a reflection on the artist's immortality amongst the rocky cliffs of his Catalonian home.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

More Salvador Dalí Artwork and Analysis:



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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Salvador Dalí
Interactive chart with Salvador Dalí's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Joan MiróJoan Miró
Max ErnstMax Ernst
Yves TanguyYves Tanguy
Giorgio de ChiricoGiorgio de Chirico

Personal Contacts

Tristan TzaraTristan Tzara
André BretonAndré Breton
Luis BunuelLuis Bunuel

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
PointillismPointillism
CubismCubism
FuturismFuturism
DadaDada

Influences on Artist
Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí
Years Worked: 1917 - 1989
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Max ErnstMax Ernst
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Mark RothkoMark Rothko

Personal Contacts

Man RayMan Ray
André BretonAndré Breton
Andy WarholAndy Warhol

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Pop ArtPop Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art

Useful Resources on Salvador Dalí

Videos

Special Features

Books

Websites

More

Salvador Dalí - Masters of the Modern Era ► 58:06 Salvador Dalí - Masters of the Modern Era

By British art critic Alastair Sooke
557k views

Omnibus BBC - Dalí Biography ► 59:01 Omnibus BBC - Dalí Biography


61k views

Luis Buñuel & Dalí's <i>Un Chien Andalou</i> ► 21:27 Luis Buñuel & Dalí's Un Chien Andalou

The seminal short film that launched their careers
425k views

More Interesting Videos with Salvador Dalí

artist features

Defining Modern Art

Take a look at the big picture of modern art, and Dalí's role in it.

Dalí window displays at Bonwit Teller

Dalí exhibited his works at a famous Manhattan department store

Dalí and The Surrealists - Master Marketers

Top 10 marketing stunts by Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, and Salvador Dalí.

The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.

biography

The Persistence of Memory: A Biography of Dalí

By Meredith Etherington-smith

The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí Recomended resource

By Ian Gibson

Salvador Dalí: An Illustrated life by Gala

By the Dalí Foundation Gala

More Interesting Books about Salvador Dalí
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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
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