Salvador Dali strove to shock people, not only through his art, but with his actions and his words as well. He was a Surrealist in all aspects of his life, so much so that the other members of the Surrealist movement eventually tried to separate themselves from Dali.
Born in Catalonia, Spain in 1904, Salvador Dali showed artistic talent early. His father was very strict but his mother was much gentler and encouraged him to explore his interest in art. In 1916 he began drawing classes. Then, in 1922, Dali went to Madrid to study at the Academia de San Fernando.
While at school, Dali painted in the Cubist style and experimented briefly with Dada. It was also during this time that he developed the first of his many strange styles of dress: He grew his hair long and wore sideburns and he dressed in suit coats, stockings, and short pants that stopped at the knee. After nearly four years of school, his ego had grown so large that he decided he was too good for any of the professors to judge him. When he expressed this feeling, he was kicked out of the academy.
After he left the Academia de San Fernando, Dali began to experiment will Surrealism. He also grew a thin mustache that curved up at either end. Both the mustache and the surrealist style would last the rest of Dali’s life.
I cannot show you paintings here (due to copyright law) but I will direct you to some of Dali’s most famous paintings. First, look at The Persistence of Memory. The melting clocks portray the idea that time is not always steady. That weird shape in the middle of the painting is a face. It was based on a rock formation off the shore of Catalonia, Spain.
Next, look at Swans Reflecting Elephants. It is the reflections that make this painting so fantastic.
Dali included reflections in other paintings as well, including Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Focus hard and you’ll see a hand holding a blooming egg (the flower is a narcissus) and, beside it, a man leaning toward the water. The story of Narcissus tells of a man who was so in love with himself that he drown trying to embrace his own reflection. The gods then created a flower in his memory and named it after him. This paintings is Dali’s interpretation of that story.
Dali not only painted, but created sculpture, worked on films (including one for Disney), made jewelry, experimented with photography, and helped design the Dali Theater and Museum in Figueres, Spain.
In 1989, Salvador Dali died. Some believe that, on his deathbed, he was forced to sign blank canvases. As the rumor goes, paintings were later created on the canvases and passed off as Dali’s work.
There are lots of crazy stories about Dali. Sometime I'll write a post just about his wackiness but for now his art is more important.
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