Salvador Dali was an artist, author, provocateur, and one of the most famous figures of the Surrealist movement.

Dali's discovery of the theories about the subconscious imagery of Sigmund Freud and his close affiliation with the Surrealists in Paris developed his mature artistic style.

The Surrealist movement was founded in Paris in 1924 by a small group of artists and writers led by the poet André Breton. Surrealism was a literary and artistic movement.

Surrealism, the most influential movement of 20th-century art, focused on the unconscious mind, such as random thoughts and dreams, as a way to release the power of imagination. The movement detested literary realism and rationalism because of the belief that the conscious mind hindered creativity and imagination. 

The Surrealist movement had a significant impact on music, poetry, film, and art. Surrealist paintings were a combination of strange and normal-looking objects that were unrelated, such as a telephone and a crab. 

Surrealist paintings can be beautiful, interesting, shocking, or simply weird. 

Salvador Dali was an artist, author, provocateur, and one of the most famous figures of the Surrealist movement. 

Date and Place of Birth

Salvador Dali was born to an affluent middle-class family on May 11, 1904, in Figueras, Spain. Figueras is a small town outside Barcelona located in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, which is about 16 miles from the French border. 

His older brother, born nine months before him and named Salvador, died of gastroenteritis before the young Dali was born. His family regarded him as the reincarnation of his dead brother. His father, Salvador Dalí y Cusi was a notary and lawyer who was a disciplinarian. His mother, Felipa Domenech Ferres, was the complete opposite. 

Early Life and Education

As a young boy, Salvador Dali was prone to having fits of anger and outbursts. He was, however, an intelligent and talented child. Because of his odd behavior, he was often subjected to cruelty by his father and his playmates and classmates. 

At an early age, Dali, together with his parents and younger sister, Ana Maria, spent a lot of their summers in their home in the coastal village of Cadaques. He was then already creating sophisticated drawings. His parents built him his first art studio even before he entered art school to support his talent. 

In 1916, Dali attended drawing school at the Instituto in Figueres and the Colegio de Hermanos Maristas. He preferred to daydream, though, during classes and was not a serious student. He was the class eccentric because he had long hair and wore odd clothing. 

His sister, Ana Maria, was often his model for his paintings. He painted primarily outdoor scenes such as houses and sailboats. He also did portraits and experimented with modern painting styles, including Impressionism. 

Dali discovered modern painting while vacationing with his family in Cadaques. This was after his first year in art school. During this time, he met Ramon Pichot, a local artist who was often in Paris. 

Dali's parents were very supportive of his interest in art. After having his first drawing lessons when he was ten years old, he enrolled at the Madrid School of Fine Arts during his late teens. It was while in this school that he started to experiment with the Pointillist and Impressionist styles. 

When he was 19 years old, he had an exhibit of his charcoal drawings. The exhibition was organized by his father and held in their family home. He had his first public exhibition in 1919 at the Municipal Theatre of Figueres. 

Dali studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Spain, when he was 17. He had, by this time, started to live with a provocative and flamboyant persona confidently. His eccentric behavior became more popular than his artwork. 

In this academy, Dali experimented with many different art styles depending on what picked his starving curiosity. In this academy, he became close to a group that included prominent artistic personalities such as poet Federico García Lorca and filmmaker Luis Buñuel. 

Unfortunately, he was expelled from the academy in 1926 because he offended one of his professors while taking his final examination before graduation. 

Finding Comfort in Art

Dali went idle for a few months after he was dismissed from school. He decided to take a trip to Paris. This was in the 1920s. He met Pablo Picasso and found inspiration in his works. 

The Futurist challenge to show objects from multiple angles simultaneously and to recreate motion caught his fancy. He began to study Freud's concepts of psychoanalytic theory. He also closely studied metaphysical painters such as Giorgio de Chirico as well as Surrealists like Joan Miró.

With this new knowledge, Dali started to use psychoanalytic techniques that involved using the subconscious to create imagery. 

Dali went on to explore concepts that interpreted reality and altered perception. His first notable work using these concepts was Apparatus and Hand (1927). In this artwork, Dali showed his interpretation of a dreamlike landscape and symbolic imagery. This would become his painting signature that remains unmatched. 

Dali continued to study and experiment with different art styles, including Cubism, Dadaism, and classic art. In the 1920s, Dali went to Paris and began mingling with artists like René Magritte, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso. His interactions with these artists led him to his first Surrealist phase. 

Dali, henceforth, concentrated most of his artwork on Surrealism and went on to become one of the greatest artists of the Surrealist movement. 


Dali's discovery of the theories about the subconscious imagery of Sigmund Freud and his close affiliation with the Surrealists in Paris developed his mature artistic style. From 1929 to 1937, Dali's works made him one of the most popular and influential Surrealist painters. He was the most renowned painter of the 20th century after Pablo Picasso. 

Salvador Dali is best known for his The Persistence of Memory (1931). This painting shows Dali's classic melting clocks and his interest in subconscious symbolism and Surreal dreamscapes.  

The Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee (1944) is one of his best-known works. It shows a sleeping figure of his wife, Gala, hanging above a rock at Port Lligat. A pomegranate, two drops of water, and a bee floating mid-air are seen beside her naked body. 

The Galatea of the Spheres (1952) is a portrait Dali made of his wife and muse. He showed her head, shoulder, and neck as three-dimensional spheres.

The Christ of Saint John of the Cross (1951) is based on the drawing of a Spanish friar during the 16th century. Although the painting is about the crucifixion, it does not show blood and nails. Dali said he derived inspiration for this painting from a cosmic dream and believed that including blood and nails would ruin his depiction of Christ. 

The Swallow Tail (1983) was the last of his series of paintings on catastrophe theory. It was also Dali's final painting. 

Greatest Achievements

Many artists today are inspired by the works of Salvador Dali. His wild art complemented by his public personality made him stand out from the other surrealists. He was known as the greatest surrealist artist. His paintings became popular because they entertained and shocked many people. 

With a career spanning over six decades, Salvador Dali is the most outstanding surrealist artist and one of the most influential personalities in modern art. His legacy not only includes his Surrealist paintings but sculpture, photography, and many more.  


Salvador Dali died of cardiac arrest due to pneumonia and respiratory insufficiency. He died at a hospital in Figueras, Spain, on January 23, 1989. He was 84 years old.