A famous figure in art history, Salvador Dalí is remembered centuries later. But who is he, and why is he so famous?
Salvador Dalí is arguably the most famous Surrealist artist in history. He was a Spanish painter and sculptor. Perhaps his best-known work is titled The Persistence of Memory, which is a painting of melting clocks.
Salvador Dalí’s contribution to art history is rich and extensive. Learn more about his influence below.
Who is Salvador Dalí?
Salvador Dalí was born in Catalonia, Spain, to lawyer and notary Salvador Rafael Aniceto Dalí Cusí, and wife Felipa Domènech Ferrés.
Dalí’s father was reportedly a strict federalist, and discouraged Dalí’s creative endeavors in Surrealism, although his mother supported him.
Landscape Near Figueras (1910) was Dalí’s first known work, painted when he was just six years old.
His older brother had died 9 months before his birth to gastroenteritis, and appeared in Dalí’s later work.
One painting was dedicated to his deceased brother, titled Portrait of My Dead Brother (1963).
When he was younger, he attended various schools to hone his artistic ability.
While still at the Municipal Drawing School, he organized exhibitions of his work (his charcoal drawings) in his home.
Two years later, he held his first public exhibition at the nearby Municipal Theater.
Growing up, Dalí spent a lot of time around the Pichot family.
Speaking of his time studying the work in the museum, he said, “This was the start of a monk-like period for me, devoted entirely to solitary work: visits to the Prado, where, pencil in hand, I analyzed all of the great masterpieces, studio work, models, research.”
Dalí would work on Cubism, which garnered significant since there were almost no cubist painters in Madrid during that era.
He began to combine avant-garde ideas, blending Cubism with Futurism.
From 1922 onwards, Dalí’s work began receiving significant attention from critics for its originality and cubist influences.
Dalí’s Famous Works & Later Influence
Dalí’s most famous work is his The Persistence of Clocks (1931).
The painting depicts clocks melting on hard rocks, and hanging from sharp tree branches, with a soft sunset in the background.
Dalí’s concept for the work is “hard and soft”, and since he has never explained it, it can be interpreted in a variety of ways, such as the movement of the human mind between hard reality and soft consciousness.
This is possibly the most famous painting in Surrealism.
Another famous painting of Dalí’s is titled Swans Reflecting Elephants (1937).
Yet another of Dalí’s famous works is the 1936 piece Soft Construction With Boiled Beans.
The eccentric and experimental artist Salvador Dalí influenced centuries of art after him in Surrealism, Futurism, Cubism and all art forms.