Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989) was a Spanish surrealist. His father was a middle-class lawyer and notary who endorsed strict discipline. His mother was tempered and encouraged Dali’s artistic endeavors. She died when Dali was 16. His parents made him believe he was his brother’s reincarnation, who died nine month prior Dali’s birth.
Dali studied art atMadrid’sRoyalAcademydeSan Fernandowhere he was fast known for his eccentric dandy style and his dabbling in Cubism. He was expelled shortly before exams for starting unrest. This happened the same year, 1926, when he first visitedParisand met Picasso, who had heard of Dali from Joan Miro. Miro and Picasso as well as the classics Raphael, Velázquez, Vermeer, Bronzino and Francisco de Zurbaran influenced Dali heavily. He even grew a moustache like Velazquez.
After some success with exhibitions inBarcelonaand adventures into Surrealism, Dali officially joined the Surrealist group of Montparnasse inParisin 1929. This, his relationship with Gala who was 10 years his major and a surrealistic piece he exhibited inParisthat discredited the honor of his late mother, lead to a permanent break of the relation with his father. In 1931 Dali painted his most famous works with the melting pocket watches “The Persistence of Memory”.
He was introduced toAmericaby the art dealer Julian Levy in 1934. His eccentric manners and attention-grabbing public action gave him the necessary publicity, including public outcry. His apology after the NY masquerade ball, which was perceived as an apology for a surrealistic artistic act, along with his refusal to speak up against fascism let to his expulsion from the Surrealist group. His only reply was: “I myself am surrealism.”
His career continued. Often his artistic abilities and high imagination were pushed to the background by his love for grand pose and grandiose behavior. Fellow surrealists accused him of commercializing his art by purpose for the love of the money and spoke of him in the past tense only. He however wouldn’t be bothered by the opinion of others. Eccentricity was as much part of him and his art as was the art itself.
Rumors are that in the late years of his life his staff forced him to sign empty canvases to earn money with forgeries after his death. Hence, art dealers are weary when they are offered late works of Dali for sale. Dali died in 1989 of heart failure.