Born into a wealthy Catalan family, Dalí began his artistic education in Juan Núñez’s painting classes. In 1922, he moved to Madrid to attend the San Fernando Academy. He lived in the students’ residence, where his paintings, which were already flirting with the Cubism he must have come into contact with through foreign publications, caught the attention of his friends, including Buñuel and García Lorca.
He held his first solo exhibition in 1925 at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona, and took part in the First Exhibition of the Iberian Artists’ Society in Madrid. At that time, his works also showed the influence of metaphysical painting. That same year, García Lorca spent his summer vacation with Dalí in Cadaqués. Dalí did not return to the San Fernando Academy for the following term, but took his first trip to Paris, where he met Picasso and visited the Louvre. In 1926 he was expelled from the Academy for declaring that the Tribunal that was to examine him was incompetent, and returned home to Figueres. In the work he showed at his second solo exhibition at the Dalmau Gallery, and also at the second Autumn Show at the Sala Parés Gallery, the influences of Surrealism were already noticeable, as well as certain elements of his future aesthetic: severed hands and heads, and human and animal body parts in a state of decomposition. In 1927 the play Mariana Pineda by García Lorca was premiered at the Goya Theater in Barcelona, with sets designed by Dalí.
In 1928, he published the Yellow Manifesto with Lluís Montayà and Sebastià Gasch, a harsh attack on conventional art. He returned to Paris in 1929 where, introduced by Joan Miró, he came into contact with André Breton’s circle, and that same year he collaborated with Buñuel on the film Un Chien Andalou, which was as highly acclaimed by surrealists as it was criticized by audiences.
In the early 1930s, his own style really took shape. He started developing his ‘paranoiac-critical method’ which would go on to determine his entire career. He collaborated with Buñuel again on L’Age d’Or (The Age of Gold). In 1930 he became fully integrated into the Surrealist group and took part in several exhibitions inside and outside Spain, though he was ousted from the group in 1934 for his political ideology. That same year he married his muse Gala, a fundamental figure in his career.
With the German invasion of Bordeaux they moved to the United States, where Dalí designed jewelry and magazine covers, created the decoration for store windows and stage sets, and made costumes for ballets and Hollywood movies. In the late 1940s he embarked on his mystical phase, focusing on religious themes and matters related to the scientific advances of nuclear fission and fusion. By this time, Dalí was already an undisputed media star. After his return to Spain in 1948, he and Gala settled in Port-Lligat, and in 1961 he started work on the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres which was eventually inaugurated in 1974.
Noemi de Haro