May 11, 1904 to January 23, 1989
Surrealist Extraordinarby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali was a Spanish artist during the 20th century. Born on May 11, 1904, in Figueras, Catalona, Spain to Don Salvador Dali and Felipa Domenech Ferrés, Salvador was believed by his parents to be his older brother, who died nine months before Dali was born, reincarnated. Dali's father was a lawyer with a strict manner, while Dali's mother was quite the opposite and she encouraged his artistic endeavors. Salvador also had a sister who's name was Ana Maria; she was three years younger than him. In 1916 Dali attended drawing school and that summer he discovered modern art at a museum in Paris. Dali's father actually arranged an exhibit of Dali's charcoal drawings at their home the next year. Early in 1921 Dali's mother died of breast cancer. Dali's father later remarried Felipa's sister.
Dali moved to Marid in 1922 and learned at Academia de San Fernando. He was already gaining a reputation for eccentricity with his long hair, side burns and odd stockings. While in school, he gained attention for his painting in which he applied the cubist style, even with his limited knowledge of the Cubist Movement. One of the major influences on Dali's art during this time was Dada, a religion based on art and anti-war efforts. Shortly before final exams though, Dali was expelled because of his claim that no one in the school was competent enough to test him.
During World War II, Dali met Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, also called Gala, who would end up being his future wife. At this same time Salvador's relationship with his father was all but dead as his father disapproved of his relationship with Gala. His father got even more outraged when he read that Dali said he sometimes spit on his mother photo for fun. The summer following Dali's disagreement with his father, Dali bought a small cabin by the sea, to which he gradually built and added upon to build the villa he enjoyed. During his time at the villa, Dali painted one of his most famous works entitled "The Persistence of Memory", which depicted melting clocks. Salvador married Gala in 1934, and then they remarried in a Catholic ceremony in 1968. Also in 1934, Julian Levy introduced Dali's art to America in an exhibit in New York City.
Surrealists were known for their left-sided political nature, yet Dali distanced himself from politics with the belief that art should remain separate from politics. He was later approached by the Surrealists who accused him of being irrational and supporting Hitler, to which he replied, "I am Hitlerian neither in fact nor intention."1 In the same year, Dali was expelled from the surrealist group. Upon expulsion he claimed that he was surrealism himself. The year 1936 held the London International Surrealism Exhibit, in which Dali gave a lecture, entitled Fantomes paranoiaques authentiques, while wearing a diving suit and helmet. He entered the lecture leading a couple of Russian wolfhounds and carrying a billiards stick, which he explained by saying he had just come from the depths of the human mind. During this exhibit Dali formed a friendship with Edward James, whom he later featured in his painting "Swans reflecting Elephants". André Breton, leader of the surrealists, nicknamed Dali "Avida Dollars" which is an anagram for Salvador Dali and was used in a derogatory way since it meant "eager for money". The surrealist even went as far as to speak of Dali in the past tense as if he was dead.
When World War II started in Europe, Dali and Gala moved to the US for safety, where they lived for eight years. During this time, Dali returned to his Catholic faith and started his writing career. In the early 1940s Dali published his autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. 1944 saw the publication of a Dali novel, written about a fashion salon for cars. Dali even drafted a scenario for the film Moontide. Gabriele Maria Berardi, an Italian friar, claimed to have performed an exorcism on Dali. It was later found that there was a statue of Christ on the cross on the friar's estate, which was claimed to be given as thanks for the exorcism.
During the year 1949, Dali moved back to Catalonia, where he would spend the rest of his life. Toward the end of Dali's career he decided not to limit himself to just painting and did several different things, including advertising. Regardless of this decision, Dali was still one of the first to paint with holographic designs in his art, which he attempted later in his career. After World War II, Dali delved into technical virtuosity and became interested in optical illusions. About the same time, Dali then spent several years in the advertisement business and designed several commercials and logos.
Dali's health took a turn for the worse in 1980. Gala had supposedly been dosing him with unprescribed medications which sent his nervous system into shock, ending his art career. On June 10, 1982, Gala suddenly died. After the death of his wife, Dali lost his will to live. He was even found in a bedroom fire of unknown origins which could have been a possible suicide attempt by Dali. He was rescued from this fire, and taken into the care of several of his friends, where, it is alleged, he was forced to sign blank canvases which could lead to forgeries. January 23, 1989, Dali died of heart failure at the age of 84.
Salvador Dali lived a long life that was filled with many "successes". But many wonder whether Dali lived for the Lord or not. Dali claimed to be a devote Catholic, but by his actions he showed very little interest in the things of the Lord. In Colossians 3:23 it says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" Did Dali do everything to please the Lord or was he simply working to bring himself praise and glory?