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Salvador Dali, only the best surrealist artist I'd ever want to know!

Salvador Dali, only the best surrealist artist I'd ever want to know!

Born on May 11th 1904, Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Dali as we know him was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter, whose work is admired by many, including myself for its amazing qualities and skill. Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. I myself have a huge respect for his work and count him as one of my artistic influences. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, which introduced a surrealistic image of soft, melting pocket watches is so well known I don’t even need to show an image but for those of you who don’t know it here it is Dali Clocks; The general interpretation of the work is that the soft watches are a rejection of the assumption that time is rigid or deterministic. This idea is supported by other images in the work, such as the wide expanding landscape, and the other limp watches, shown being devoured by insects. Dali painted this particular painting in 1931. Although best known for his paintings, Dalí's expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.

Dalí the eccentric character, was highly imaginative, and also had an affinity for partaking in unusual and grandiose behaviour, in order to draw attention to himself. This often annoyed those who loved his art as much as it annoyed his critics, since his eccentric manner sometimes drew more public attention than his artwork did. Dalí grew a flamboyant moustache, influenced by seventeenth-century Spanish master painter Diego Velázquez. The moustache became an iconic trademark of his appearance for the rest of his life.

In 1934, Dalí was introduced to America by art dealer Julian Levy. The exhibition in New York of Dalí's works included the Persistence of Memory which created an immediate sensation. Social Register listees put him on a pedestal and organized a ball in his honour the ‘Dalí Ball.’ He showed up wearing a glass case on his chest, which contained a brassiere. In that year, Dalí and his wife Gala also attended a masquerade party in New York, hosted for them by heiress Caresse Crosby. For their costumes, they dressed as the Lindbergh baby and his kidnapper. The resulting uproar in the press was so great that Dalí had to apologise. When he returned to Paris, the Surrealists confronted him about making an apology for a surrealist act.

Late in his career, Dalí did not confine himself to painting, but experimented with many unusual or novel media and processes. He was a versatile artist, in fact some of his more popular works are sculptures and other objects, and he is also noted for his contributions to theatre, fashion, and photography, among other areas. Dali was among the first artists to employ holography in an artistic manner in his work. Several of his works incorporated optical illusions. In his later years, young artists such as Andy Warhol proclaimed Dalí an important influence on pop art.  Dalí also had a keen interest in natural science and mathematics. This is manifested in several of his paintings, especially in the 1950s, in which he painted his subjects as composed of rhinoceros horns. According to Dalí, the rhinoceros horn signifies divine geometry because it grows in a logarithmic spiral. He also linked the rhinoceros to themes of chastity and to the Virgin Mary. Dalí also worked with other famous filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock. The most well-known of his film projects is probably the dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, which heavily delves into themes of psychoanalysis. Hitchcock needed a dreamlike quality to his movie, which dealt with the idea that a repressed experience can directly trigger a neurosis, and he knew that Dalí's work would help create the atmosphere he wanted in his film.

In 1980, Dalí's health took a catastrophic turn. His near-senile wife, Gala, allegedly had been dosing him with a dangerous cocktail of unprescribed medicine that damaged his nervous system, thus causing an untimely end to his artistic capacity. At 76 years old, Dalí was a wreck, and his right hand trembled terribly, with Parkinson-like symptoms.

Gala died on June 10, 1982. After Gala's death, Dalí lost much of his will to live.

There have been allegations that Dalí was forced by his guardians to sign blank canvases that would later, even after his death, be used in forgeries and sold as originals. Although there hasn’t been any proof that this is true.

In November 1988, Dalí was taken to hospital with heart failure. On January 23, 1989, he died of heart failure at Figueres at the age of 84.

My favourite Dali quote - ‘When I paint, the sea roars. The others splash about in the bath.”

Posted: Sunday 2 May 2010

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