The Surreal Life of Salvador Dali

My journey began on May 11, 1904. I was born in a small town just located outside of Barcelona; it was called Figueres in the country of Spain. I was born into a middle-class family, my father Salvador Rafael Aniceto Dali was a lawyer and notary. My mother Felipa was the person who got me interested in art, she passed away when I was 16 of breast cancer. My sister Anna Maria was three years younger than I was. I would have had an older brother, his name was Salvador also, but at 9 months old he passed away due to gastroenteritis. My mother and my father took me to my brother grave site when I was just 5 years old and they told me that I was the reincarnation of him (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”) (Russell “Salvador Dali, Pioneer Surrealist, Dies at 84” 1989)

I found the surroundings of my childhood very inspiring, which helped me with my artwork later on in life. My father and my mother pushed me to be a great artist; I even had my first drawing lesson at 10 years old. My father realized I was not ready for public school yet so he enrolled me in the Hispano-French School of the Immaculate Conception, this is where I learned French. (“Timeline”) A few years later I was enrolled at the Madrid School of Fine Arts, where I learned impressionism and pointillism. In 1922 I was on my way to San Fernando in Madrid, I enrolled at the Special Painting, Sculpture and Engraving School. Unfortunately I was expelled from the academy in 1926 because I insulted one of my professors during his final examination, and it was right before graduation. (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”)

This led to another life changing moment in my life. After I got expelled from school I took a trip up to Paris. While I was there I visited the legendary Pablo Picasso in his art studio and found inspiration about the Cubists. I began studying more about Freud and the psychoanalytic concepts of surrealism; this method mines the subconscious mind to generate imagery. In 1927 I explored more in the surrealism, interpreting reality, and altering perception. This led to my first serious work of style; it had a dreamlike image and the landscape was symbolic. I called it, Apparatus and Hand. (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”)

In 1929 I met the love of my life Gala, who was 10 years older than me. She was still currently married to Paul Eluard at the time, they had one child together. We would end up having a civil marriage in 1934, and in 1958 have an actual marriage (Stanska “Dali And Gala – The Love Story”) (“Salvador Dal?­ i Dom??nech”) . Gala, Paul, Rene Magritte and his wife Georgette came to visit me while in Cadaques to discuss about being a part of the surrealist circle. Soon after this meeting I moved to Paris again and was invited by Andre Breton to join the Surrealists. In the 1930’s I took concept of the unconscious mind to a new level by creating the Paranoic Critic Method this method is emerging from the paranoid state of mind and I would hand paint dream photographs. I believed that we could find connection with the art work because the subconscious language was universal (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”). In 1934 Andre Breton removed me from the surrealism circle because of my different views (“Timeline”).

I got my big break in 1934 when an art dealer named Julien Levy organized an exhibition in New York, she used my painting The Persistence of Memory which everyone loved and was a big hit. I would always go out in public in odd looking outfits, always looking for attention. Gala and I were invited to a masquerade ball in New York; we dressed as the Lindbergh baby and his kidnapper. This was not a good idea, but I did apologize to the press for my actions. This event went so wrong it went to the surrealists in Paris. In New York I was featured in the very first exhibition on Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”).

Gala and I returned back to the United States in 1940, after the devastation of the Second World War in Europe. We remained in the United States for 8 years going from New York to California. I become highly productive with expanding my practice into a wide variety of creativity and interests. I began designing jewelry, clothing, furniture, sets of plays, and ballets(“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”) . Gala and I tried to become movie stars and make money in Hollywood, we did not succeed, but I was asked by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock to create the dream sequence for the 1945 thriller Spellbound. I also helped out Walt Disney with a cartoon Destino, but failed due to financial difficulties after World War 2 (“Timeline”).

Gala and I returned to Port Lliga in Spain in 1948, we would spend the next 30 years there. During my time there I experimented with optical illusions, negative space, and visual puns. In my studio I designed a special slot built into the floor that would allow the huge canvases to be lowered and raised as I worked on them. I painted roughly 18-20 works between 1948-1970. In the 1940’s 1950’s I focused mostly on religious themed paintings, abiding my interest in the supernatural (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”).

In 1962 when my book The World of Salvador Dali was published, I signed copies while in a gold robe laying on a bed at a bookstore in Manhattan, New York City while I was hooked up to monitor recording my brain waves and blood pressure. I would always find ways to amuse people just to get attention. I would call these acts manifestations. This one time I sipped a swan egg while ants were emerging from the inside of its shell. I once drove around in a Rolls Royce filled with cauliflower to the roof. I also made a number of commercials for television such as Lanvin Chocolates, Alka-Seltzer, and Braniff-Airlines (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”) (Meisler “The Surreal World of Salvador Dal?­” 2005) (“Salvador Dali Mike Wallace interview 1958 Part 1 2 YouTube” 2011)

When I visited New York City in the 1960’s my favorite place to stay would be the St.Regis Hotel on 5th Avenue. I made the hotel bar my living room, and parties would be held throughout my stay there. Andy Warhol would come and hangout, he even brought a silkscreen painting as a gift. We threw it on the ground and urinated on it, instead of getting upset, Warhol loved all of it (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”) (Meisler “The Surreal World of Salvador Dal?­” 2005).

In 1968 I bought a castle in Pubol for Gala, in 1971 for weeks at a time she stayed there on her own forbidding me from seeing her without her permission. When she goes to Pubol it made me feel a sense of abandonment which later on turned into severe depression. In 1980, when I was 76 years old, I was forced to retired due to palsy. I was unable to hold a brush in my hand. After my Gala passed away in 1982 following a bad case of the flu, my depression got worse which made me have suicidal tendencies. I moved in the castle shortly after her death. (Meisler “The Surreal World of Salvador Dal?­” 2005)One of my important achievements was the creation of the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres. On January 23, 1989 I slowly passed away of heart failure (“Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis”) (Stanska “Dali And Gala – The Love Story”).

Salvador Dali Reflection Page

My research on The Surreal Life of Salvador Dali I learned that he was a very interesting man, words can’t describe the thoughts and feelings that goes through this man’s head that’s why I believe he is a genius in his field. He had a lot of obstacles in life but he learned to overcome a lot of them. Every time a door closed he seemed to find a way to get a key and open up the next door.
When researching I had to pick and choose which parts of his life to put in this essay. When he was a young boy his father showed him sexually transmitted diseases of the female genitalia which caused a phobia all through his life. Because of this Salvador and his wife Gala planned out sexual events and Gala would have affairs while Salvador watched. This also is what made his art pieces so unique and passionate; when he did his art masterpieces he would paint his wife Gala with different objects which appear to be the male genitalia. All because of the images his father had shown him when he was a child.

This was a fun and informational research paper and I am happy that I have chosen Salvador Dali as my artist. I really admire all of his artwork that I have researched because it’s not just one object, it is many different objects you just have to relax your mind, look around, and think about what he was thinking when creating it, really look into what each object he has given us, it’s not just a painting, it’s a story of what he feels. I believe that’s what’s so beautiful about his art work and surrealism art you can’t just see it you have to feel it. Thank you Salvador Dali.


Salvador Dal?­ Overview and Analysis. The Art Story,

Timeline. Salvador Dali Museum,

Salvador Dal?­ i Dom??nech. Salvador Dal?­’s Biography | Gala – Salvador Dali Foundation,

Meisler, Stanley. The Surreal World of Salvador Dal?­., Smithsonian Institution, 1 Apr. 2005,

Stanska, ByZuzanna. Dali And Gala – The Love Story. – Art History Stories, 7 Feb. 2018,
InvisibleMountain. Salvador Dali Mike Wallace Interview 1958 Part 1 2 YouTube. YouTube, YouTube, 2 Nov. 2011,
Russell, John. Salvador Dali, Pioneer Surrealist, Dies at 84. The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Jan. 1989,

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