The Roaring 20's

                                         Salvador Dali

                                          Early Years

Dalí, Salvador (1904-89): Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement. Throughout his life he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism (one of his most famous acts was appearing in a diving suit at the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936), claiming that this was the source of his creative energy. He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life. His paintings employed a meticulous academic technique that was contradicted by the unreal `dream' space he depicted and by the strangely hallucinatory characters of his imagery. He described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs' and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax (The Persistence of Memory, MOMA, New York; 1931).

                                        Salvador Dali

In 1937 Dalí visited Italy and adopted a more traditional style; this together with his political views (he was a supporter of General Franco) led Breton to expel him from the Surrealist ranks. He moved to the USA in 1940 and remained there until 1955. During this time he devoted himself largely to self-publicity; his paintings were often on religious themes (The Crucifixion of St John of the Cross, Glasgow Art Gallery, 1951), although sexual subjects and pictures centring on his wife Gala were also continuing preoccupations. In 1955 he returned to Spain and in old age became a recluse.Apart from painting, Dalí's output included sculpture, book illustration, jewellery design, and work for the theatre. In collaboration with the director Luis Buñuel he also made the first Surrealist films---Un chien andalou (1929) and L'Age d'or (1930)---and he contributed a dream sequence to Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945). He also wrote a novel, Hidden Faces (1944) and several volumes of flamboyant autobiography. Although he is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, his status is controversial; many critics consider that he did little if anything of consequence after his classic Surrealist works of the 1930s. There are museums devoted to Dalí's work in Figueras, his home town in Spain, and in St Petersburg in Florida.


1904Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech is born in Figueres, Spain on May 11.

1922He attends the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid.1925First one-man exhibition in Barcelona.1928First Dalí painting shown in the US at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburg, PA.1927Dalí is called to the Castle of San Fernando for 9 months of military service1929Dalí meets future wife Gala Éluard. He joins the Surrealist movement.1934Gala and Dalí marry in a civil ceremony on January 30.1936Dalí gives a lecture in a diving suit at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London. Appears on cover of Time Magazine.1938Dalí visits Sigmund Freud in London.1939Dali creates the pavilion the Dream of Venus for the 1936 World’s Fair – an installation of art and performance that will profoundly influence the course of art in the world.

1940Following the German occupation of Paris, the Dalí’s flee to America to live for the next eight years, working with figures like Hitchcock and Disney. They divide their time between New York and California.1941Dalí’s first major retrospective is held at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.1942Dalí’s autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí is published.1943Dalí and Gala meet Eleanor and Reynolds Morse who purchase their first Dalí painting, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope! They Morse’s become lasting friends and most devoted collectors.1944Dali publishes his novel Rostras Oscuras (Hidden Faces)1948Dali and Gala return to Spain for the first time after 8 years in the US, Dali returns to NY each winter1952Dalí goes on a lecture tour in America on “nuclear mysticism”—his new theory of art which combines religion, math, science and Catalan culture in an attempt to revive classical values and techniques; he becomes an American celebrity anew.

1958Dalí and Gala marry in a religious ceremony in Girona, Spain on August 8.

1965Huntington Hartford’s Gallery of Modern Art, New York, holds a major Dalí retrospective exhibition featuring the entire Morse collection.1974Dalí’s museum, the Teatre-Museu Dalí, in Figueres, Spain, opens on September 28.

1982Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida opens on March 7.
Gala dies in her castle in Pubol, Spain, on June 10. King Juan Carlos of Spain confers the title of Marquis of Pubol on Dalí. Dalí succeeds in changing it to the Marquis of Dalí and Pubol.
1989Dalí dies of heart failure on January 23 in Figueres. He is buried under the geodesic dome in the Teatre-Museu Dalí.