If there is any one person who we immediately associate with the phrase, “Think outside of the box”, he is Salvador Dalí. Most of us know his famous paintings with drooping clock faces and other distorted images. We think of Dalí as the leading light of the Surrealist Movement. As one would expect, he was a very complex person who explored many pathways in life.
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. He was a son of lawyer and notary public Salvador and Felipa Dalí.
A clue to Dalí’s eccentricity may be found in an event that took place when he was only five-years-old. The youngster was brought to his brother’s grave, also named Salvador. His parents told the boy that he was his brother’s reincarnation. Dalí once said, “We resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.” Some of his later works include images of his long-dead sibling.
“Take me, I am the drug; take me, I am hallucinogenic.” — Salvador Dalí
When Dalí reached his 20s, two key factors came together to assimilate his ecclectic talents. This is when he joined the Paris Surrealists, a group who explored and established a “greater reality” of the subconscious over reason. At about the same time, Dalí came across Sigmund Freud’s essays about the erotic significance of subconscious imagery. Dalí then taught himself how to induce hallucinatory mental states in his own mind by a technique he named “paranoiac critical”.
“Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people towards social emancipation.”
It was just after this discovery that Dalí produced his most famous paintings. Throughout most of the 1930s he became the most recognized Surrealist artist. Around this same period, he collaborated with Spanish film director Luis Buñuel on two Surrealist movies. Un Chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog) and L’Âge d’or (The Golden Age) featured suggestive, grotesque imagery.
In February of 1937, Dalí was introduced to the Marx Brothers. He collaborated with Harpo Marx on the screenplay for a film called Giraffes on Horseback Salad. Unfortunately the movie was never produced.
As the 1940s approached, Dalí focused his talents onto more academic, but less interesting styles. His images became more like those of the Renaissance artist Raphael. As a result, Dalí was exiled from the Surrealist movement. In the 1940s and 1950s he designed interiors of posh retail shops and theatre sets. Dalí also dabbled in jewelry design. This time-frame witnessed much of Dalí’s book writing phase.
“We must always remember that the Chinese revolution was not a peasant’s revolution, but one of the extreme Right.”
From the mid 1950s into the next two decades, Dalí concentrated his efforts on religious themed paintings, but sometimes branched off into works centering on his wife, Gala along with nostalgic works regarding his own childhood. Most of his later works fell into obscurity because they were far less interesting to the public.
Salvador Dalí died on January 23, 1989 in Figueres, Catalonia he was buried at the Crypt at the Dalí Theatre and Museum in that city.