Salvador Dalí in 1965 with his tame ocelot, which he kept as a pet. The twirled mustache became an iconic trademark and was portrayed in Dali’s Mustache. Photo by Roger Higgins
“My whole ambition in the field of painting is to make the imaginary images of concrete irrationality manifest with the most domineering accuracy.” Quote, Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali was born on 11 May 1904 in Figueras, Catalonia, the son of a notary. Already as a child his artistic talent was recognized and promoted. At the age of 10 he received lessons from the impressionist Ramon Pichot. His mother died in 1921, which hurt the young Salvador very much. He writes: “I had to bring it to fame in order to take revenge for the offence which the death of my mother, whom I devotedly venerated, meant for me”.
Dali began his art studies at the Royal Academy of Arts in Madrid. In 1924, due to his politically rebellious remarks, he was expelled from the academy without being able to complete his studies with an examination. However, this did not bother him much, because he felt that the teachers were not competent enough to evaluate his works.
Dali explored and experimented with several art styles, such as Cubism, Impressionism and Realism. In March 1928, together with Sebastia Gasch and Luis Montanyä, he signed the Groc Manifesto “The Yellow Manifesto”, which was a harsh attack against the then dominant cultural movement of the “Noucentisme”.
Gala – The Goddess
Perhaps the most important event in Dali’s life is his acquaintance with a Gala woman. Gala, who was previously married to Paul Eluard, is deified by Dali. They married in 1934 and soon she becomes his manager. She is his model for many of his paintings: “Assumpta Corpuscularia Lapislazuina” (the Madonna) or “The Last Supper” (Christ). Gala takes care of his career and becomes a stabilizing factor for him. Dali says that his wife Gala saved him from madness and showed him how to love life.
1948 Dali returns to Europe with Gala. There he dealt with science, religion and history. During this “classical period” Dali integrated motifs into his paintings, which he picked up from popular science magazines. He was very interested in the great classical masters like Raphael, Vélasquez or the French painter Ingres. Dali comments on his change of style with the words: “To remain a surrealist forever is like painting your eyes and noses all your life”.
Towards the end of his life, Dali was mainly in the tower of one of his museums (Figueres). Here he also died of heart failure on 23 January 1989.