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  • Russ Ramsey

Getting to know Salvador Dali

For this Art Wednesday we’ll look at the work of the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Dali was a devout Catholic whose work focuses on dreams, the subconscious, sexuality, religion, and science.

Dali, Salvador Dalí, Gala Placidia, Galatea of the Spheres, 1952


Dali (1904-1989) had an older brother, also named Salvador, who died the year before Dali was born. Dali mythologized his brother, saying, “we resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.”

Salvador Dalí in 1939


Dali’s bizarre, mind-bending, technically skillful images of melting clocks, burning giraffes, and Seuss-like creatures in a post-apocalyptic setting captured me as a teenager. Weird, cool stuff that made me feel like an insider.

Dali, Homage to Newton, 1985


Dali started painting at an early age. He discovered modern art during family trips to Paris. As an art student, he dressed as an “eccentric dandy,” with long hair and sideburns, a long coat, and knee-breeches.

Dali, Inventions of the Monsters, 1937


Dali’s influences include Picasso, Freud, Vermeer, Nietzsche, and Velázquez. He was also obsessed with the shape of Hitler’s back—a fascination that set him at odds with much of the artistic community in the 1940’s.

Dali, Venus de Milo with Drawers, 1936


Though people often equate Dali with surrealism, Dali had a complicated relationship with the movement itself. He said, “The only difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a surrealist.”

Dali, The Sacrament of the Last Supper, 1955


Dali died in 1989, and is entombed in a crypt beneath the stage of his Theatre-Museum in Figures, Catalonia, Spain, across the street from the church where he was baptized and a quarter mile from the house where he was born.

Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931


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