Salvador Dali

One of the greatest showmen in the history of modern art, Salvador Dali’s enigmatic personality continues to generate fascination among people across the globe. It was in the course of his life that one can trace the situations that led Dali to become the artistic powerhouse he was.

Born in 1904 in the small Spanish town of Figueres, Salvador Dali grew up under the shadow of his deceased brother, who was also named Salvador and died in 1903, aged two. Anguished by this loss, the artist's parents preserved their deceased son through his brother, which led to a sense of a hollowed identity for the artist. Owing to this, Dali grew up with innate rebellious tendencies that would later become a hallmark of his artistic identity. At the same time, Dalí was haunted by the idea of his dead brother throughout his life, mythologizing him in his writings and art.

Art had been a major influence in Dali’s life since a young age. He pored over several volumes of art monographs gifted to him by his father. He also received encouragement from Pepito Pichot, a friend of his father whose brother was an impressionist painter living in Paris and known to Picasso. This culminated with Dali executing paintings even before he had turned ten. In 1917, he enrolled at the Municipal School of Drawing in Figueres to study under Professor Juan Nuñez, who further nurtured the talents of the young artist.

Next year, at the age of 15, Salvador Dali had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres. The early years and the decades of 1920 were a sinuous journey for the artist. A profound sadness swept over him with the passing of his mother in 1921. In 1923, he was rusticated from the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and had to undergo compulsory military service. Despite these detours, Dali continued to dedicate himself to his art and experimented with various styles of painting. He explored Cubism and Purism and also experimented with representationalism of the subconscious in a Surrealist manner. His talents were soon recognised. In 1925, the first one-man exhibition of his works was showcased at Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona. This success was followed by his enlightening trips to Brussels and Paris, where he also met Picasso.

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