From Salvador to Dalí

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Short biography


Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born  in 1904 in Figueres (Catalonia), Spain.

His older brother, also called Salvador, died at the age of two nine months before he was born.

His parents thought he was his brother’s reincarnation and he believed that too.

His mother died when he was sixteen and he suffered from her loss as he worshipped her.


He moved to a student’s residence in Madrid and studied art there. He became friends with Buῆuel, the film director and Lorca, the poet. He met with painters such as Picasso, Magritte and Miro which lead to his first Surrealist phase.

He was expelled from the Academy in 1926 before his final exams but his painting skills were obvious.

He started to joing the French surrealists movement and fell in love with Paul Eluard’s Russian wife, Gala. She divorced Eluard and married Dalí in 1934. He said he never had sex with another woman before and they married for life.


He got expelled from the surrealist movement for political beliefs and he declared: “I am surrealism”.

He was very prolific and was known for his love of money. André Breton used to call him “Avida Dollars” (eager for dollars, 1939), an anagram of “Salvador Dali”. There was indeed at this point an increasing commercialization of Dalí’s work. He was seeking for fame and fortune.


He developped an interest in natural science and maths. This is manifested in several of his paintings, notably from the 1950s, in which he painted his subjects as composed of rhinocéros horn shapes. According to Dalí, the rhinoceros horn signifies divine geometry because it grows in a logarithmic spiral.


He lost his wife in 1982 and died in Figueres in 1989 from a heart failure.




Some symbols within his work


Dalí grew up in Spain in tough times and it shows wihin his work. Here's an illustrated alphabet of some of his favorite symbols...


Revisited in my own way!



Venus de Milo


It has long been part of the personal mythology of the painter. She is the first woman he child clay from a reproduction that adorned the family dining room model.




The egg is another favourite Dalinian motif, given the duality of its hard exterior and soft interior. Dalí links the egg to pre-natal images and the intra-uterine universe, and thus it is a symbol of both hope and love.. Eggs are fragile and so is life : embrace your "egg" and place it wherever you don't want it to break.







Human bodies that open with drawers are found repeatedly in paintings and objects from Dalí. They symbolize the memory and the unconscious and refer to the "idea drawer", a legacy of reading Freud's concept. They express the mystery of the hidden secrets. Most children explore every drawer, cabinet and closet of their home.


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Butterflies were Dali’s favourite symbol since the 50’ . In old Greek the word ’psyche’ meant soul and butterfly. We only need to think about the transformation op the pop into a butterfly to understand why Dali was fascinated by the enormous amount of variety, colours and lightness of the butterfly .




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Soft watches


Dalí often said, "the materialization of time flexibility and indivisibility of space ... This is a fluid." The unexpected softness of the watch also represents the psychological aspect by which the speed of time, although accurate in its scientific definition, can greatly vary in human perception. The idea came to him after a meal while gazing at the remains of a runny Camembert. He decided to paint the landscape that served as his backdrop two soft watches, one of which miserably hanging from the branch of an olive tree.




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The snail is linked to a landmark event in the life of Dalí: his meeting with Sigmund Freud. Dalí believed that nothing just happens by accident, he was captivated by the vision of a snail on a bicycle outside Freud's house. The link is then made by him between a human head and the snail, he associated especially at the head of Freud. As for the egg, the outer part of the shell (hard) and the body (soft) inside the snail fascinated him and the geometry of the curves enchanted.




They have the power to penetrate the heavens, to communicate with God and accomplish and mystical union concern as the painter. The figures of angels painted by Dalí often borrow traits Gala, incarnation, for Dalí, purity and nobility.



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Soft shapes (bean-like)


It's about melancholy this time... Beans are dull and filling vegetables. In times of war, they were there to help you swallow "the meat", yet another symbol for "problems".

Themes of love, eating and war were all related according to Dalí.


Quote : "one could not imagine swallowing all that unconscious meat without the presence of some mealy and melancholy vegetable."



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Male figure with butterfly


This elegant sculpture was originally conceived as part of the famous Dalí series of tarot cards, which was created specifically for Gala, the artist’s wife and muse. The hero leaves the world of everyday banality for the world of illusive butterfly. Fragile butterfly wings give him will to fly to another reality, where he can throw off the usual daily concerns and constraints


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Dalí was very scared of grasshoppers. They symbolise ‘fear’…he painted them to get rid of his fears.



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Silhouettes are the psychological shadows, spirits and apparitions. They stand for the good, supernatural being, inner dialogue and motivational power as well as for the evil, inner conflicts and inhibitions.


This composition was made with the projection of a Dali sculpture on a wall.



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© 2016    




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