One of the most famous artists of the 20th Century, Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí Domenech, Marquis of Pubol, was born in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Spain in 1904. He remained there through childhood and adolescence, before moving to Madrid to study art.
On his first visit to Paris he visited with Pablo Picasso, whom he greatly admired, and who had already heard favorable reports of the young Dalí from his friend, Joan Miró. Dalí created a few works heavily influenced by Picasso and Miró, and enjoyed his first independent art show in Paris in 1929. Shortly afterward he joined the Surrealists, led by Andre Breton, who believed that art should emerge from the subconscious and were partially influenced by Freud. In less than ten years in Paris, Dalí created some of his first signature works and distinguished himself as the principal Surrealist artist on the international stage.
Dalí’s main sources of subject matter were childhood memories and dreams painted, often placed on vast flat landscapes, and painted hyper-realistically. The public’s fascination with Dali springs from this effect of seeing “very real”, but “completely impossible” things. Perhaps the most famous of his paintings is The Persistence of Memory (1931), in which limp, melting watches rest in an eerily calm landscape. Dalí also collaborated with Spanish director Luis Buñuel on two films, Un Chien Andalou and L’Age D’or. The artist lost favor with his Surrealist colleagues over his newly-found success and a change in aesthetic the Surrealists saw as primarily for commercial gain.
By the late 1930’s Dalí had begun painting in a more academic style, often including religious iconography he had previously avoided. He continued, however, to explore childhood memories and build new work around themes of his formidable wife, Gala.
In America, where the artist spent the 1940s, he worked on developing his more Cubist aesthetic within a religious milieu, crafting images of St. Anthony, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ suspended within or around cubes to create dramatic perspectives. During the 1960’and early 70’s Dalí went through a period of intense creativity as an etcher, many of these works commissioned by his most noted publisher Pierre Argillet. The first years of the 21st century have seen an ever-heightening interest in Dalís etchings, as museums have increased exhibition space for the works and scores of galleries have mounted major print retrospectives.
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