If one were to name the top artists of the 20th Century, the name Salvador Dali would figure in the top bracket. This most versatile and prolific artist is known best for his surrealist paintings.
Although some people consider him to be the father of surrealism, it was actually Andre Breton, a French writer, and poet, who wrote the first Surrealist Manifesto in 1924. How Dali came to be so closely associated with surrealism because of his surrealistic works.
Dali, who was born in 1904 in Figueras, Spain, and died in the same city in 1989, was a showman and a prankster, besides being an outstanding painter. Not only this, but he was also a sculptor and a printmaker, who also delved into fashion, advertising, writing, and even filmmaking. His initial works were influenced by Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro and had a sprinkling of Classical and Renaissance art.
Always interested in art, Dali had his initial grooming as an art student in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Here he got the opportunity to imbibe various artistic styles and excelled himself as a painter. However, he developed his unique artistic style under the influence of Sigmund Freud’s writings and a group of Paris surrealist artists and writers. It made him understand the significance of subconscious imagery.
Dali resorted to inducing hallucinatory states in himself in order to conjure images from his subconscious mind. He described this process as ‘paranoiac-critical. This method enabled him to depict a dreamworld in his paintings, where everyday objects appeared bizarre and irrational. Take, for instance, his masterpiece, ‘The Persistence of Memory. It shows limp and melted clocks and watches in a bleak landscape. His two surrealistic films in French, ‘An Andalusian Dog’ and ‘Golden Age’, had grotesque but highly suggestive images. These works made him the world’s best-known surrealist artist.
Later in his life, Dali came under the influence of Renaissance painter Raphael, and his style became more academic. However, his controversial political views during the rise of fascism alienated him from his surrealist colleagues. He then started designing theatre sets, fashion shops, and jewelry. He moved to the US, where he lived from 1940 to 1955. From the 1950s to the 1970s, he started painting religious themes. However, his later works were not as well regarded as his earlier ones.
Dali died on January 23, 1989, of heart failure while listening to his favorite record ‘Tistan and Isolde’.
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