Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí

(Figueres, Girona, 1904-1989) Spanish painter. While part of the immense prestige and popularity that it enjoyed already in life was due to its bizarre and imposted eccentricities, Salvador Dalí was right to breathe new life into European surrealism until becoming its best known representative; His confusing aesthetic ideas (the so-called paranoid-critical method) were much less decisive than his impressive compositions, to which he moved with a masterful technical precision a personal and symbolic universe, as clear and luminous as Deeply disturbing and disturbing.

Salvador Dalí was born in a dawn of the spring of 1904 in the bosom of a bourgeois family, son of a notary Bienpensante and a sensible lady fond of birds. Many years later he would write in his autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942): “At the age of three he wanted to be a cook. At five I wanted to be Napoleon. My ambition has only grown and now it is to become Salvador Dalí and nothing else. On the other hand, this is very difficult, because, as I approach Salvador Dalí, he moves away from me. ”

Since the persecution would be incessant and the goal would never be reached, and given that in no corner of his biography was expected to find balance and peace, Salvador Dalí decided to be excessive in everything, interpret numerous characters and sublimate his anguish In a plurality of humorous and sordid delusions. He defined himself as “polymorphous, straggling and Anarquizantey”, or “soft, weak and repulsive “, though to conquer this laborious advertising image before he had to save some initiatory tests, and if his early childhood favorite game was Dressing the King’s suit, at the age of ten, when autorretrata as the sick child, explores the advantages of appearing a fragile and nervous constitution.

Its precociousness is surprising: at the age of twelve it discovers the style of the French Impressionists and becomes impressionist; At fourteen he has already been acquainted with the art of Picasso and has become a cubist, and at fifteen he became editor of the magazine Studium, where he draws brilliant pastiches for the section titled “The Great masters of painting.”

The student Residence

Salvador Dalí

In 1921 he left his native Catalonia and moved to Madrid, where he joined the Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando. Installed in the residence of students, it becomes friends of the great Granada poet Federico García Lorca and of the future surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel, of whom however it will distance irreversibly in 1930. In the capital he adopts an extraordinary outfit: he wears long hair, a disproportionately large tie and a cloak that drags to his feet. Sometimes she wears a blue sky shirt adorned with sapphire twins, she holds her hair with a snood and polishes it with oil varnish. It is difficult for her presence to pass unnoticed.

In the scrambled and conflicting months of 1923 he suffers an unfortunate setback. In the Academy of Fine Arts to which it is affiliated, there are demonstrations against a teacher, and before the official speech begins and the violent controversy is unleashed, Salvador Dalí leaves the room. The authorities believe that this gesture of his has been the sign of attack and rebellion and decide to expel him for a year. Then again in Figueres, the guards come to stop him and spends a season in jail.

At the exit of prison will receive two joys. The first, a press for engraving that his father gives him, and the second, the visit of his excellent companion of the residence of students of Madrid, Federico García Lorca, who in the warm nights of the summer of Cadaqués reads to the whole family Dalí his verses and dramas Rec Ién compounds. It is there, next to the Mediterranean, where García Lorca writes the famous “Oda a Salvador Dalí “, published a few years later, in 1929, in the magazine of the West. Soon it will also be Luis Buñuel who arrives in Cadaqués to work with his friend Salvador Dalí in an absolutely atypical cinematographic screenplay and from which a film is as strange as an Andalusian Dog (1929).


Salvador Dalí In Paris

Salvador Dalí

In 1927 Salvador Dalí travels for the first time to Paris, but it is the following year when it is established in the French capital. It is related to Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró and, with the help of the latter, joins the surrealist group that leads the poet André Breton. In 1929 he exhibited at the Goemans Gallery and obtained a great success; The original images of his paintings, in which objects are displayed with irritating precision, seem to delve into abnormal psychic depths and reveal a cruel and hallucinating unconscious. But Breton will end up expelling the movement a few years later, in a memorable trial session to which Dalí appeared covered with a blanket and a thermometer in his mouth, feigning fictitiously being afflicted with fever and thus converting the Oppressive judgment in a ridiculous farce.

The triple accusation to which Salvador Dalí had to confront was to flirt with fascism, to show a delirious Catholicism and to feel an excessive passion and unstoppable for money. To this precisely alludes the famous nickname Anagramático with which it would be courted by Breton, avida dollars, accusation that, far from displeasing the painter, provided a secret and ironic pleasure. In fact, after meeting the one who would be his muse and companion throughout his life, Gala, then still wife of another surrealist, the poet Paul Éluard, Dalí declared romantically: “I love Gala more than my mother, more than my father, more than Picasso and more Even that money. ”

Salvador Dalí fell in love with Gala in the summer of 1929 and with it it enjoyed for the first time of the erotic honeys. It is the time when he paints the adequacy of desire, enlightened pleasures and the great Masturbator, the latter painting that was attacked and torn by the fanatical Puritan group the Camelots du Roy. While the exhibition of his works takes place in the Goemans Gallery in Paris, the young and passionate couple shelters and isolates on the French Riviera, passing the days and nights locked in a small hotel room with closed shutters.

Aware of the dissolute life of his son by an article by Eugenio D’Ors appeared in the Literary Gazette, Dalí ‘s father breaks relations with his offspring; But this should not have affected him too much, or maybe so, since it is at that time when the artist performs the best of his work, as the famous painting The Persistence of Memory (1931), where soft watches hang from the branch of a tree, the edge of a pedestal and over a m Isteriosa form lying on the vast expanse of the beach.

Surrealism Dalinian

Before arriving in Paris, the artist had made his first exhibition in the galleries Dalmau of Barcelona, in 1925, and his work had traveled through cubism and realistic currents, as in Girl in the Window (1925) or his first basket of Bread (1926). When Dalí joined the Surrealist group, the movement went through moments of strong internal contradictions. The vitality and extravagance of that young Spanish promise was decisive for the renewal and projection of the group, which also absorbed energies that resulted in the most appreciated stage of his work. In theory, his best paintings were the fruit of the application of the so-called “paranoid-critical Method “, which Dalí defined as a spontaneous system of irrational knowledge “based on the interpretative-critical association of delusional phenomena “.

Salvador Dalí


This methodology advocates a move away from the physical reality in favor of the mental reality: thanks to a controlled use of the hallucination and the sleep (the paranoid or irrational must undergo the lucidity or criticism), the objects of the daily life are They become icons of the desires and fears of the human being. Through his works and following the dictates of Freudian theories, the artist brings to light the most hidden aspects of his erotic life, his fantasies and desires. Dalí pretended that his cloths should be looked upon as painted dreams; His images of soft watches, hypertrophic members supported by crutches and elephants of waders legs, to name a few of the best known, are both expression and liberation of sexual obsessions and anguish before death.

The embodiment of his personal obsessions is the reason that brings together most of his fabrics at this stage, in which he served the techniques of the most conventional illusionist realism to impact the public with their unusual and disturbing visions, which often They allude directly to sexuality. The Great Masturbator (1929, National Museum Reina Sofía Art Center, Madrid) is in this sense a paradigmatic work of this period.

A magnificent illustration of the method is the painting titled Slave Market with the vanishing Bust of Voltaire (1940, Reynolds-Morse Foundation, Cleveland), in which the Philosopher’s face consists of two figures who, simultaneously, are part of the Human group of the second term. On the left, the scene is a woman who rests on a table; The content of the fruit bowls on the table is in turn part of the set of figures that participate in the market that gives the title to the fabric.

The Endless Enigma (1938, Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum, Madrid) constitutes another excellent example of this repeated game of significant perversion of the image. The paranoid obsession that under the apparent mysticism of the peasant scene was beating the presence of death led Dalí to ask the Louvre to perform an X-ray of the picture, which allowed to see in the place that occupies the trolley the outline of a coffin that Millet hadn’t Originally painted, thus confirming his own paranoid intuition.


The International Consecration

Salvador Dalí

A few years in the group was enough for Dalí to convert in the great figure of Surrealism and his work reached a considerable international resonance. In 1934 he traveled with his already inseparable Gala to the United States, where he landed and presented to the journalists with a huge bread cooked by the cook of the transatlantic who transported them. In his erratic manifestations he does not hesitate to associate the myth Hitler with the telephone and with Lenin with the baseball. They are all absurd jokes that try to remove iron from a threatening political situation. Two years later the atrocious civil war in Spain is unleashed and one of the first signs of the probity of the military insurgents is the infamous assassination of his friend Federico García Lorca, a crime that shocked the world’s public opinion. Dalí wrote: “Lorca had personality to give and sell, enough to be shot, before any other, for any Spaniard. ”

In 1938 he finally knows, thanks to the Viennese writer Stefan Zweig, to Sigmund Freud, who had been the great inspiration of the surrealist aesthetic, of which Dalí does not feel marginalized despite the bluster of Breton; On the contrary, it is considered the only and most genuine exponent of the movement. The father of psychoanalysis had given pabulum to the new inquest of the unconscious with his book The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), but he had never taken too seriously to his young admirers of Paris. However, on July 20, 1938, after the meeting, Freud wrote in his diary: “Until then I was tempted to consider the Surrealists, who apparently have chosen me as a patron saint, as Integral madmen (let’s say 95%, like pure alcohol). That young Spaniard, with his splendid eyes of fanatic and undeniable technical dominion, moved me to reconsider my opinion. ” For his part, the artist made amazing and awesome portraits of the “holy Patron” of the Surrealists.

Once again installed in new York city in 1939, Dalí accepts a commission to decorate commercial storefronts. The theme he chooses is the day and night, the first evoked by a mannequin that gets into a hairy bath and the second by means of embers and black cloths extended, but the direction modifies the scenery without consulting the author. Dalí, angry, dumps the bath of Astrakhan full of water and the spear against the crystals of the window producing a great crash and a notable destruction. Although American public opinion applauds the vigour with which it has been able to defend intellectual property, it is judged by the courts and condemned to pay the damages. Nor does he succeed in concluding his next project to decorate a pavilion at the new York International Fair, which was to bear the significant title of Venus’s dream.

The development of the Spanish Civil War (whose outburst had intuited in soft construction with boiled beans, then titled Premonition of the Civil War, 1936) and The Omen of the Second World War had provoked in Dalí the desire to take refuge in a world Without conflicts, and sublimated his surrealist experience by retaking the Renaissance iconography and being interested, above all, by the economic value of his paintings; This turned him into the avid dollars with which Breton, rearranging the letters of his name, had baptized him.

Of particular relevance to the evolution of his work is the trip he made to Italy in 1937; After direct contact with the classics, he acquired some taste for religious themes and a more academic technique, which for a long time would still apply, however, to the oneiric and strange; Among many examples are paintings such as Madonna de Port Lligat (1950, Minami Museum, Tokyo), Crucifixion (1954, Metropolitan Museum, New York) and The Last Supper (1955, National Gallery, Washington). At the same time, the painter produced an enormous amount of decorative objects lacking the transgressor force of his first surrealist works.

Last few years

salvador dalí

In 1948 he returned to Spain, setting his residence again in Port Lligat and finding in the regime of general Francisco Franco all sorts of facilities. The government even declared that Catalan corner that fascinated the painter “picturesque spot of national interest.” For many art historians the best of his work had already been done and yet he still had forty years of capricious production and irreducible enlarged and exhibitionism, with public appearances of the style that starred in December Of 1955, when it was persounded at the University of the Sorbonne of Paris to give a lecture in a Rolls Royce full of cauliflowers. In the artist’s life, a Dalí museum was even founded in Figueres; This scenographic, variegated and strange monument to its proverbial ego alone is one of the most visited museums in Spain.

During the seventies, it had declared that the painting was “a handmade photograph “, it was the guarantor of the international hyper-realistic style which, leaving its palette, was not less disturbing than its neat previous inquiry on the Unlimited and equivocal Oneiric Universe. But who more and who less remembers better than his paintings his repulsive mustache slicked, and no one who claims to have seen in the Lyceum, the luxurious theatre of the opera of Barcelona, elegantly dressed with frac and wearing in the pocket of the chest, in the guise of colorful p Añuelo, a flaccid French omelette.

In his will, the controversial artist bequeathed a large part of his patrimony to the Spanish State, thus causing even after his death (occurred in 1989, after a long agony) new and acrimonious controversial. The Italian novelist Calvino wrote that “Nothing is more counterfeit than the unconscious”; Perhaps this paradoxical and antifreudiana truth is the great lesson of the creator of the paranoid-critical method, of that master of histrionics and propaganda, of that unbridled and perfectionist painter, of that exempted Conjurer and extravagant citizen who was Salvador Dalí. The prolific crackpot of the empordà, the Catalan plain swept by the vertiginous north wind that gathers the soft waves of the Mediterranean Sea on a tortuous and Arriscada coast, discovered the art of the mystification and the mockery, of the lie, the dissimulation and the Disguise before even learning how to reproduce dreams with the accuracy of your pencil.

His long-lived existence, stubbornly devoted to torturing matter and canvases with the most perverse fruits of his fertile imagination, remained equally faithful to a dazzling landscape of his childhood: Port Lligat, a bay embraced by rocks where the spirit Remans , pray to rise to the most sublime mysteries, pray to corrupt as the still waters. Mystic and narcissistic, immodest exhibitor of all the intimate circumstances of his life and perhaps one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century, Salvador Dalí turned the provocative irresponsibility not into an ethic, but in an aesthetic, a grim aesthetic where the beautiful It is no longer conceived without the disturbing glare of the sinister.

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