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Salvador Dali

1904 - 1989

"The only difference between me and a madman, is that I am not mad"

Salvador Dali is my favourite artist. His most famous painting is probably 'The Persistance of Memory' (shown directly below). The following is a story of how he became involved in Surreallism.

The Persistence of Memory

Dali was born in 1904 in Figueras, Spain. Nine months before he was born, Salvadors older brother (also named Salvador) died. His parents believed that the new born Salvador was actually a re-incarnation of his dead brother and he even admitted that the ghostly memory of his lost brother had haunted him for his whole life. As a result of their fears over the death of their first son, Salvador Dali's parents gave him the royal treatment. Dali says in several of his writings that the dualistic stresses imposed upon him, that of living both as himself and his dead brother, caused him a particular obsession with decay and putrefication.

Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds

Dali's early works as a teenager were predominantly of the landscapes which surrounded Cadaques and Fugueras. In 1917, Dali's father organised a small exhibition in their home, this was to be the first of many. In 1921, Dali's mother died. At this time, Dali mainly thought of himself as mainly an impressionist painter. Soon after, in 1922, Dali was accepted at the Acadamia de San Fernando, a school of painting, sculpture and engraving in Madrid. It was here that Dali became part of an emerging group of intellectuals and this had a profound effect on Dali.

The Cosmic Athlete

Dali first started to experiment with cubism in 1923 while most of his colleagues were still experimenting with with impressionism. In 1926, Dali refused to take his final oral exams on the basis that he claimed he knew more about the subject then his examiners! As a result, he was expelled from the San Fernando Academy. During the next few years, Dali travelled extensively and it was during this next phase of his lifetime that Dali's interest in the surreal and the bizarre began to blossom. Dali emerged as a leader of the Surrealist movement and his painting, Persistence of Memory (1931) is still one of the best known surrealist works.

Perpignan Railway Station 1965

On January 23, 1989, Salvador Dali died in a hospital in Figueresfrom heart failure and respiratory complications. Of all the surrealists and their achievements, there is one that stands out above all the others. It was a way of percieving reality developed by Dali called |the Paranoiac Critical Method. Dali defined it as "irrational knowledge" based on a "delirium of interpretation" meaning that the viewer finds unique ways to view the world around him.


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Last revised: November 16, 1999.