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Figueres, 11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989

The son of a prestigious notary public of Figueres, Salvador Dalí devoted himself to drawing and painting from a very early age, and in 1922 he commenced Fine Art studies in Madrid. During his stay at the Residencia de Estudiantes he struck up a great friendship with the poet Federico García Lorca and the film-maker Luis Buñuel, with whom he carried out several avant-garde artistic projects.

Following his studies in Madrid and participation in the renovating artistic debates of the 1920s in Catalonia, Salvador Dalí left for Paris and joined the Surrealist group of painters and sculptors. Some of the works that were to make him one of the greatest representatives of Surrealism – such as The Great Masturbator, The Spectre of Sex Appeal, The Lugubrious Game and The Persistence of Memory (Soft Watches) – date from this period. In 1929 he met the young Russian girl Helena Diakonova, known under the nickname of Gala, who would from that time on become his model and girlfriend.

Coinciding with the start of the Second World War, Salvador Dalí and Gala settled for a few years in the United States, where his realistic yet dreamlike style of painting met with considerable success. He wrote The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí and also worked for cinema, theatre, opera and ballet. Major works of the 1940s include Soft Self-Portrait with Fried Bacon, Basket of Bread – Rather Death than Shame, Leda Atòmica and The Madonna of Portlligat. Having become one of the most famous painters of the times, in 1948 he went back to live in Europe, spending long periods at his home and workshop in Portlligat.

Religion, history and science were increasingly to form the subject-matter of his works during the 1950s and 1960s, many of them of large format. These were the years in which he painted many of his best-known works, such as Christ of St. John of the Cross, Galatea of the Spheres, Corpus Hypercubus, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (The Dream of Christopher Columbus) and The Last Supper.

During the 1970s Salvador Dalí created and inaugurated the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, which houses a large collection of his works, from his earliest days and his Surrealist creations through to the works he produced in the last years of his life. After having lived for many years in Portlligat, when his wife Gala died the artist moved for a few years to Púbol Castle, spending the last years of his life in the Torre Galatea house in Figueres, near the Dalí Theatre-Museum, where he wished to be buried.

In 1983 he created the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation as the institution that was to manage, protect and promote his artistic and intellectual legacy.

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