“Every morning when I awake the greatest of joys is mine: that of being Salvador Dalí…”
– Salvador Dali
The Prodigy Child without an Exam
Salvador Dali was born as the son of a prestigious notary in the small town of Figuera in Northern Spain. His talent as an artist showed at an early age and Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali received his first drawing lessons when he was ten years old. His art teachers were a then well known Spanish impressionist painter, Ramon Pichot and later an art professor at the Municipal Drawing School. In 1923 his father bought his son his first printing press. Dali began to study art at the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid. He was expelled twice and never took the final examinations. His opinion was that he was more qualified than those who should have examined him.
In 1928 Dali went to Paris where he met the Spanish painters Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro. He established himself as the principal figure of a group of surrealist artists grouped around Andre Breton, who was something like the theoretical “schoolmaster” of surrealism. Years later Breton turned away from Dali accusing him of support of fascism, excessive self-presentation and financial greediness. By 1929 Dali had found his personal style that should make him famous – the world of the unconscious that is recalled during our dreams. The surrealist theory is based on the theories of the psychologist Dr. Sigmund Freud. Recurring images of burning giraffes and melting watches became the artist’s surrealist trademarks. His great craftsmanship allowed him to execute his paintings in a nearly photorealistic style. No wonder that the artist was a great admirer of the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael.
Dali and Gala
Meeting Gala was the most important event in the artist’s life and decisive for his future career. She was a Russian immigrant and ten years older than Dali. When he met her, she was married to Paul Eluard. Gala decided to stay with Dali. She became his companion, his muse, his sexual partner, his model in numerous art works and his business manager. For him she was everything. Most of all Gala was a stabilizing factor in his life. And she managed his success in the 1930s with exhibitions in Europe and the United States.