Salvador Dali 2 Essay, Research Paper
” I do not take drugs…I am drugs. This statement was made by the great Spanish painter and member of the surrealist movement Salvador Dali. Dali referred to his works as “hand-painted dream photographs,” and claimed that his imagery often came directly from his own dreams. Although there is no documented evidence that he did experiment with hallucinogenic drugs, his paintings reflect a sort of false reality, showing commonplace objects in strange forms.
Salvador Dali was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain. During his childhood, he spent much time at the family’s summer home in the village of Cadaques, where his parents built his first studio. As an adult, he built a home with his wife Gala in nearby Port Lligat.
Dali attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Early awareness of Dali’s talent came with his first one-man show, held in Barcelona in 1925. Paintings from this time include Dismal Sport, in 1929, and Portrait of Paul Eluard, in 1929. Paul Eluard was a French poet and writer, and a founding member of the surrealist movement. Dali became internationally known when three of his paintings were shown in the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928.
The following year Dali held another one-man show in Paris. He also joined the Paris Surrealist Group, led by Andre Breton, the author of The Surrealist Manifesto. Dali soon became a leader of the Surrealist movement. Surrealism was a twentieth-century literary and artistic movement that began in Europe between World
War I and World War II. The movement attempted to express the subconscious with brilliant imagery and strange similarity of the subject matter.
His painting, The Persistence of Memory, completed in 1931, is one of the best known surrealist works. It ranks as one of the most famous paintings of the 20th century. The strange form in this painting s foreground is based on an image from a 16th century painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Two other paintings from this period, Meditation on the Harp, completed in 1932, and Three Women With Heads of Flowers Finding the Skin of a Piano on the Beach, completed in 1936, are perfect examples of Dali s surrealistic period. These paintings also rank among my personal favorites, because of their simplicity and complex titles.
By 1940, Dali was moving into a new style, which eventually became known as his “classic” period, dealing with such topics as science and religion. The Museum of Modern Art in New York gave Dali his first major retrospective exhibit in 1941. This was followed in 1942 by the publication of Dali’s autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. Such works from this so-called classical period include Crucifixion, completed in 1954, and Christ of St. John of the Cross, completed in 1951. These paintings obviously portray the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but are given a new twist on the subject matter with surreal imagery.
In 1974, Dali opened the Museum of Dali in Figueres, Spain. This was followed by retrospectives in Paris and London in the later seventies. An example of Dali s work from this period is The Hallucinogenic Toreador, completed in 1970. This painting contains references to his Spanish background, but again, the theme of hallucination is obvious.
After the death of his wife, Gala, in 1982, Dali’s health began to fail. The last years of his life were spent in seclusion, and Dali died on January 23, 1989 in Figueres from heart failure.
The development of the Surrealist movement in the twentieth century influenced many painters, thinkers, and poets alike. Salvador Dali s influence on the movement is considerable. By utilizing elements of abstract imagery and free form ideas, Dali was able to capture the workings of the unconscious. Ironic as it is, Dali s art has found its way onto the walls of college dorm rooms and album covers of contemporary musicians. This perplexing art form is still studied and interpreted years after its development, and provides an intriguing glimpse into a vision of fantasy and reality.