Salvador Dali: Biography, Paintings & Facts

Instructor: Colleen Cleveland

Colleen has taught college level Game Development and Graphic Design and has a Master's in Interactive Entertainment and Masters in Media Psychology.

This lesson muses on the life and times of the Surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. Let's explore his life, his creations, and fun facts along with his inspirations.

Biography of Salvador Dali

Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali I Domenech, known henceforth as Salvador Dali, was born in 1904 in Spain. His life started out in a very odd way as his parents had lost their first son a year prior and believed Salvador was the first son reincarnated.

Photograph of Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali

Dali soon began to paint Surrealism, a style characterized by complex symbols and imagery. This is the style that boosted him into international fame in the 1930s. Just prior to that, he fell in love with Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, also known as Gala. She became the inspiration behind Dali's works of art. She was his muse. Dali and Gala married in 1934.

During World War II, he fled Europe and lived in the United States. It was during this time that Dali moved into a classic period. He still painted with symbolism, but away from the psycho-sexual symbolism and more towards science and religion.

Eventually, he moved back to Europe, continuing to have success as an artist until the early 1980s. In 1982, Dali's health began to fail after Gala's death. In 1989, Dali finally passed away from ill health.

The Paintings of Salvador Dali

Some of Dali's best known artwork is The Hallucinogenic Toreador and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, which are in St. Petersburg, Florida, and The Sacrament of the Last Supper in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. However, the one piece that made Dali's mark on the surrealist movement is The Persistence of Memory. This art piece is well-known for its melting watches.

Dali and artist Man Ray
Man Ray

Salvador Dali's painting style was called Surrealism. Surrealism was an art movement in the 20th century where painters would paint the subconscious, or things that happened in dreams that didn't quite make sense. Dali's paintings are full of symbols. When he first started out, they were full of sexual references. Later, in his career, those symbols turned into scientific and religious symbols.

Fun Facts

Did you know: Salvador Dali started off as an Impressionist painter before he became a Surrealist painter and eventually, became a Classic painter towards the end of his life.

Did you know: Gala Eluard was Dali's muse, or inspiration for his painting throughout his lifetime. In fact, you can see much of Gala in many paintings by Dali. Sometimes, she is very noticeable and sometimes she is hidden in the background. In Eggs On The Plate Without The Plate, Gala is represented as two eggs on a plate, which are supposed to be her eyes.

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