Dali, Salvador (1904-1989) was born in Figueras, Spain, the son of a notary whose family came from Cadaques on the Costa Brava. The Dali family spent their summers in Cadaques, whose landscape appears often in the artist’s work, either as background or as an integral part of the composition.
Dali began his career in the schools of Figueras and later at the School of Fine Arts in Madrid where he learned the fundamentals of drawing. At this time, however, he was more interested in studying Freud, and reading art magazines that specialised in Cubism, Futurism, and metaphysical art. In 1928 he went to Paris, attached himself with passionate conviction to the French Surrealists and soon married Gala Eluard, former wife of the poet Paul Eluard, one of the founders of the movement.
When Dali became absorbed in the study of Italian Renaissance painters, the French Surrealists rejected his style as too academic in technique and he left France for New York. Dali’s work is distinguished by precise and finely executed draughtsmanship of almost photographic exactitude. Paint is applied smoothly and evenly in a varied and generally muted palette that occasionally breaks out into glaring colour. His subject matter is that of the Freudian dream world and the metamorphosis of objects, people, and animals, arranged in unexpected and often inexplicable combinations.
A prodigious worker, Dali has produced large quantities of paintings that include portraits, landscapes with figures, and religious subjects. He has also done book illustrations, lithographs, etchings, and jewellery designs.