Arts & Entertainment

Salvador Dali

By Eleanor Stern
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Dali's work reflects his unique vision of the world
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As a man and as an artist Salvador Dali was possessed with a passion to create his mind's vision. What makes him an extraordinary artist was that he released this passion freely and in its pure form through his artwork, writings, and his everyday life on this earth. 

Throughout his life, Dali embodied the look of the artiste.  He had a long thin moustache, which he often styled. He dressed in fine oriental clothing, and claimed to be a descendant of the Moors in Spain, a heritage to which he attributed his rich taste in all things.

Early years

Salvador Dali always knew he wanted to become an artist.  As a young boy he spent time with fellow painters such as Miro and Pichot.  He attended drawing school in Spain, and dreamt of going to college to study art.  He chose the San Fernando School of Fine Arts, where he began experimenting with the art form Dada.  By all accounts, Dali was an eccentric man. 

As a college student Dali continued to be influenced by his role model Miro, and also began experimenting with Cubism, and avante garde style.  As a senior in college Dali painted a cubist piece and submitted it as his final project.  He was expelled from college for announcing to his professors that they were unfit to critique his work.  Even at a young age Dali clearly did not have any restraints to go against exactly what he thought his creative vision should look like. 

Famous works

Dali's style is known for its rich symbolism mixed with fantasy, creating an almost dreamlike state of floating in his paintings. 

His most famous piece is the Persistence of Memory.  This well known painting is an entirely symbolic work. The melting clocks signify time as fluid entity in space rather than a fixed or deterministic one.

Another often recognized work is The Temptation of St. Anthony. In this piece he depicts elephants walking on long tall spindly legs. A Christ-like figure appears to ward off the herd with a cross raised towards the sky. The spindly elephants continue to march across the desert towards the figure. These are the elephants that Dali saw in his mind. 

Dali attests to

painting pictures that make me die for joy, creating with absolute naturalness, without the slightest aesthetic concern. I am making things that inspire me with profound emotion and I am trying to paint them honestly.

The Political Side

Salvador Dali was not only a revolutionary painter but an outspoken politician. In his youth, Dali wrote about anarchism and communism. As he grew older he declared himself not only an anarchist but a monarchist. He coined the term anarcho-monarchism which is a form of liberal monarchy. 

His Muse

Like many artists, Dali had a muse. His inspiration was his wife, Gala.  In 1929, they married and Dali's art shifted to portray different sexual symbolism. Dali claimed he was a virgin when he met his wife. (He is rumored to have a romantic relationship with poet Federic Lorca. However we do not know if it was just artistic union or some greater passion these two shared.) 

Nevertheless, Gala stole his heart. Every time she came for a visit he would burst into almost insane laughter and joy. Dali painted several pieces in homage to his wife including The Great Masturbator, and Accommodations of Desire.

 In the Great Masturbator Dali paints a clearly phallic flesh toned object. He sets this object in a sky-like backdrop, and hangs all sorts of different gear type objects, rocks and fleshy substances from the giant phallic symbol. The story behind this painting is that Dali wanted to capture is first sexual encounter with his wife, which left him in a state between hard and soft. 

His wife also had a therapeutic effect on his mind. In Accommodations of Desire, Dali paints different fears such as lions, ants, and Christ-like figure. He encapsulated all these fears into white rocks, and sets them on a desert landscape. Dali explained that his wife cures him of his fears.

Dali not only painted but also crafted several sculptures, including Mae West. He said that her face inspired him. One of his sculptures is a sofa in the shape of Mae West's lips.  

Shortly after his wife died in 1982, Salvador Dali tried to dehydrate himself. He survived and his friends put him in the Theater Museum after they noticed it was the only place he felt comfortable.  

His Legacy

Dali's love for the fantastic surrealist world he created on canvas, in film and in sculpture lives on through his works of art. His unique artistic vision drenched in passion speaks about Salvador Dali's eccentric personality and world view. 

The image in this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Salvador Dali

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