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Salvador Dalí (1904 – 1989) was born in Figueres, Catalonia. He attended the Municipal Drawing School at Figueres from 1916. Dalí held his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres in 1918. Dalí’s uncle, who owned a bookshop in Barcelona, supplied him with books and magazines on Cubism and contemporary art. When Dalí was 17, he moved into the Residencia de Estudanties in Madrin, and studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts).

During his time at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes, Dalí became close friends with Pepin Bello, Luis Bunuel and Frederico Garcia Lorca, among others closely involved with the Madrid avant-garde group Ultra. Through connections made in Ultra, Dalí grew close to several other avant-garde movements, including Dada and Futurism. Dalí became increasingly influenced by Cubism throughout his early career, moving closer to Surrealism in the late 1920s and joining the Surrealist group formally in 1929.

It was his experimentation with Cubism that earned him the most attention in Madrid; Cabaret Scene (1922) a famed example of his early Cubist style. Dalí exhibited eleven works in a group exhibition held by the newly formed Sociedad Ibérica de Artistas in Madrid in May 1925. Seven of the works he exhibited were in Cubist style and four realist. Dalí held his first solo exhibition at Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona in 1925.

In 1926, Dalí exhibited again at Galeries Dalmau, with the support of art critic Sebastiá Gasch. In 1927, two of Dalí’s surrealist works Honey is Sweeter than Blood (1927) and Gadget and Hand (1927) were exhibited at the annual Saló de Tardor in Barcelona. Over his lifetime, Dalí produced a vast body of work; there are more than 1600 paintings and many more graphic works, sculptures, three-dimensional objects and designs in circulation.

Dalí received the 1964, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic. In 1972, he was made an Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts in Belgium, and in 1978 an Associate member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France. In 1981 he received the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III, and in 1982 he was created 1st Marqués de Dalí de Púboi by King Juan Carlos.

Two major museums are devoted solely to Dalí’s work: the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, and the Salvador Dalí Museum in Florida. There is a permanent exhibition of a significant collection of Dalí’s work at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. In 2018, a traveling museum exhibit focusing on Dalí’s illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy premiered at the Hilliard University Art Museum in Louisiana, touring 2018 and estimated to continue until 2021. Contemporary artists Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst cite him as a major inspiration, and a 2008 film Little Ashes saw Robert Pattinson portray his life, which was closely followed by Adrien Brody as actor in 2011’s Midnight in Paris.


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