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
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
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
when his wife Gala died the artist moved for a few years
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
as the institution that was to manage, protect and promote
his artistic and intellectual legacy.