Salvador Dali is one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, who was one of the greatest representatives of surrealism and attracted attention with his unique way of dressing, behaviors, ideas and sayings. The life of Salvador Dali, who was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain, still arouses great curiosity today. Salvador Dali was named after his 3-year-old brother who died shortly before his birth. It is also known that Dali's deceased brother looked alike Salvador like a twin.
The mother and father of Dali, who was taken to the grave of his brother when he was young and started to suffer from identity crisis at an early age due to the similarities between them, had different personalities. He had an unpermissive father, while his mother was very kindhearted and understanding. With a spoiled personality due to the interest shown as he was the only son in the house, Dali started his painting adventure with the support of his mother. Following the death of his mother at a young age, painting became the most important aspect of his life.
Started to study in the university in Madrid in his early 20s, Salvador Dali joined the anarchist movement. Dali was expelled from the school and imprisoned for a while for this reason. Then, he held his first personal exhibition in Barcelona. The paintings of Dali were greeted with a great deal of attention and astonishment. Met Picasso in Paris in 1926, Salvador Dali was under the influence of Picasso for the next few years, and this influence was reflected in the paintings of Dali.
The great change of Dali corresponds to the time he met Luis Bunuel and Federico Garcia Lorca in Madrid. Known for his long hair and pipe, Dali turned into a straight-faced person with short hair during this period. Spending an intellectual daily life, Salvador Dali collaborated with Luis Bunuel on a short avant garde film named 'An Andalusian Dog' in 1929, which allowed Dali and Bunuel to build a great reputation in surrealist art circles.
The best-known work of Salvador Dali is "The Persistence of Memory", which he completed in 1931 and is also known as "The Melted Clocks". Even though this work, depicting melting pocket watches on a wide beach landscape, was interpreted by some as a protest against the concept that the time is rigid or as flowing time, Dali stated that he was inspired by cheese melting in the hot August sun in this painting. The work has been displayed at New York Museum of Contemporary Art since 1934.
Salvador Dali also had an interesting private life. Dali was not interested in women until he met Gala and changed his mind in 1926. Gala was the daughter of a Russian lawyer and the wife of Russian Poet Paul Eluard. When the first time Dali saw her on the terrace of a hotel, she was with her husband. Dali and Gala agreed to meet on the beach the next day, and then started to live together as lovers. For Dali, Gala was a lover, friend, muse, model, consultant and everything.
Dali built a great reputation in the USA after he held an exhibition in New York. The adventure of Dali, who appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, in Hollywood started in 1937. Dali met Marx Brothers, and wrote a movie script for them. In 1938, Dali met Freud, whom he had a great admiration, and painted several portraits of him. Like other classical surrealists, Dali was interested in the expression of the unconscious thought. This is why he followed the articles and studies of Freud closely.
Longing for his country upon the victory of General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War which occurred during 1936-1939, Dali, with his desire to return, declared that he supported the newly established fascist regime, and expressed his thanks to Franco for clearing the forces which destroyed Spain. Met Franco in person, Dali painted his portrait, and was appointed as the court painter. Thereupon, the surrealists, who were mostly Marxists, expelled Dali from the surrealist group and turned their back to him. Dali replied, "Surrealism is mine!".
Dali and Gala went to USA in 1940, and lived there for 9 years. Published his autobiography, 'The Secret Life of Salvador Dali', in 1942, Dali worked with Walt Disney in the production of the film 'Destino' in 1945-1946. Worked also with Hitchcock on the film 'Spellbound', Dali left for good and returned to his country with his wife in 1949. Dali, who had an increasing interest in science, called this period of his life as 'nuclear mysticism'. Then, he published the Mystical Manifesto in 1951.
In 1953, Dali was impressed when he read the article, which was published in Nature Magazine and where Watson explained the DNA structure, and saw the double helix structure. Considering DNA as the only link between the man and God, Dali took the structure of DNA molecule as an integral part of his art for 23 years. Upon the death of his beloved wife Gala on June 10, 1982, Dali lost his will to live and his passion for painting. Painted very little in his last years, Dali died on January 23, 1989.