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Dali - A Short Biography

In 1904 in Figueras, Spain, Salvador Dali was born and named after his father Salvador. He had an older brother who died shortly before he was born. Because of how close together the birth and the death were, his parents thought that he was his older brother reincarnated. For the rest of Dali's life he was bothered by cryptic memories of his brother who had passed. His parents believed that he was both himself and his brother.
 
This was overwhelming for him. His strenuous lifestyle was thought to attribute to his strange and intense personality. In many of Dali's writings, he conveys that the pressure to live both as he and his brother was the reason for his obsessions with putrefaction and decay. This is the reason behind all of the decaying bodies, insects and most other disturbing images.
 
In 1908 another child was born into the family. Her name was Anna Maria Dali. Dali was very attached to her and later in life she was a model for his academic works.
 
Dali began to paint seriously around age ten, then around age thirteen it really showed. He would often visit the Pichot family, they were a very artistic family; and some of his earliest influences with art can be directly tracked to them. 
 
The Pichot family encouraged his father to set Dali up with a little studio of his own. Much of Dali's teenage works were of the landscapes that
surrounded him in Figueras. Some of the more important landscapes that show up in his work are the Roman ruins that he would play in. Dali had a
deep connection to his Catalan heritage and it is shown over and over again throughout his work.
 
He began his formal art training at the Municipal Drawing School, at the hands of Juan Nunez. Dali soaked up the basics of draughtsman ship, painting and engraving. At about the same time his mother died in 1921, Dali basically thought of himself as an Impressionist painter. His focus was still on landscapes and his influences still came from the Pichot family.
 
Soon after his father remarried his aunt in 1922, Dali was accepted at Academia de San Fernando, in Madrid. At this school he studied painting, sculpture, and engraving. At the age of 18 he was living in the dormitories and running with the young and elite group of intellectuals that have a great effect on him.
 
Dali did not finish school or obtain a formal degree in art. He was in fact expelled in 1926 from San Fernando Academy simply for refusing to take his finals. It is said that he thought he knew more on the subject than the instructors did. Dali spent much time traveling and worked with materials available to him. It was not until 1928 that he obtained international exposure at the Carnegie International Exposition in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with his painting "Basket of Bread". This painting was in the style of the Dutch masters.
 
Dali was influenced by artists such as Jan Vermeer as he matured. It was at this time that Dali was working to become one of the greatest painters of all time. One of the more influential people that he would come into contact with was Gala Eluard. She was wife to the French poet, Paul Eluard but she soon left him for Dali. Together they lived in a small home in the north in a small village named Port Ligat. He was cut off from his father's money because he did not approve of Gala. This was the cause of them not speaking for thirty years or so. It was also the subject of much of his work. Gala contributed to much of Dali's success. She networked for him and advised him how to act in the art community. Dali spent much time in the United States, and around 1948 Gala had pulled various publicity stunts that in return helped to him gain international fame. They would spend most of their time in New York or California. Dali would make a switch to become 'classic,' and yet again another shift that would make him the master that he always dreamed to be.
 
written by HSU Art Intern Caritta Dooley