Biography of Salvador Dali, 1904-1989

Born in Figueres, Spain, Dali was an artistically precocious child and eventually attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid where he was expelled twice. He believed he was more qualified than those who administered his examinations.  He devoured the philosophical writings of Freud, and he discovered Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical art in magazines as a young artist.  He had one-person shows in Barcelona in 1925 and in Madrid in 1926.  His work eventually fused the pictorial concepts of the Surrealists Juan Gris, Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra with the refined methods of the Old Masters.  Sometime during 1928, Dali made a brief excursion to Paris where he met Picasso.  Initially Dali was shunned by the Surrealists for possessing too much skill and painterly technique, as the Surrealist ideal was based on a rejection of rationality. Later, Andre Breton, Surrealism's central figure, appointed him an official Surrealist.  Within a short time, Dali was to become the movement's most spectacular exponent.  In his art he succeeded in achieving the synthesis of what Andre Breton called "a retrograde craft with the most extreme inventions of modern culture." His graphic oeuvre includes etchings, engravings, drypoints, heliogravures, lithographs, wood engravings and photo-mechanical mixed-media prints, which evolved parallel to his paintings.

Throughout his career, Dali's fame and reputation grew dramatically, as he developed a surrealist persona to accompany his art. Stories of Dali's bizarre and audacious behavior have become the stuff of legend in modern art history. As his fame grew, so did the demand for his work among collectors and museum curators who sought acquisitions and exhibitions of his paintings, objects and graphic works. In 1982, the Salvador Dali Museum was opened in St. Petersburg, Florida, which was developed from the personal collection of Dali's patrons, A. Reynolds and Eleanor R. Morse. In 1974, the Dali Theatre-Museum (Theatro-Museo Dali) was officially opened in Figeures, Spain after Dali himself worked on its development from 1970.

Several tragic occurrences plagued Dali in his last years. In 1980, he was forced to retire due to the development of a palsy, which caused uncontrollable tremors. In 1982, his wife Gala died, which caused him to go into a deep depression. And in 1984, he was severely burned from a fire in his bedroom. He died in January of 1989 where he was living as a recluse in a tower of his own museum.

Today, Dali’s intellectual property and cultural history is administered by the Gala Salvador Dali Foundation in Figueres, Spain. The foundation was originally conceived and administered by Dali himself until his death. In 1991, the Board of the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation appointed Ramon Boixadós Malé President of the institution. The Foundation’s mission is to promote, protect and defend the artistic, cultural and intellectual integrity of Dali, his work and his memory and to recognize his contribution to the Fine Arts, culture and contemporary thought.