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Salvador Dali "More Than Just A Surrealist"

Updated: Mar 1

"Dali's work includes dreams, the subconscious, sexuality, religion, and science."


Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dali, the most famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali was born on 11 May 1904, in the town of Figueres, in the Empordà region, close to the French border in Catalonia, Spain. Dali's versatility was outstanding indicating geniality in terms of style(Realism, impressionism, expressionism, Surrealism...), techniques, and subject expression (landscapes, still life, figurative...). Dali Delivered his message with a versatile portfolio and odd subject expression. Dali left original imprints on the avant-garde art movements in his era.



Salvador Dali's Impressionistic Paintings


Dali attended the Municipal Drawing School at Figueres in 1916, and had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres in 1918. At the beginning of his artistic career, Dali was Influenced by Impressionism, the ground-breaking art movement that Monet evoked in the 19th century, its influence appeared in Dali's work during the early 1920's. Short, thick strokes of paint quickly capture the essence of the subject, rather than its details. The paint is often applied impasto, Colors are applied side by side with as little mixing as possible, using a technique that exploits the principle of simultaneous contrast Dali made the color appear more vivid to the viewer. In the portrait of Dali's father, we can see greys and dark tones are produced by mixing complementary colors. Pure impressionism avoids the use of black paint and does not exploit the transparency of thin paint films (glazes), which earlier artists manipulated carefully to produce effects, The impressionist painting surface is typically opaque. Also, wet paint is placed into wet paint without waiting for successive applications to dry, producing softer edges and intermingling of color. Dali developed his impressionistic skills till the mastery we could see in "the Character masquerading in pinning up a butterfly" Salvador Dali painted in 1965. The Masterpiece is perfect in terms of composition, marvelous light transitions, and a vibrant color palette.



Portrait Of My Father, Oil on canvas, Portrait Of My Father, Oil painting impressionism, By Salvador Dali 1921By Salvador Dali 1921
Portrait Of My Father, Oil painting impressionism, By Salvador Dali 1921


Character masquerading in pinning up a butterfly 1965 Post impressionism by Salvador Dali
Character masquerading in pinning up a butterfly 1965 Post-impressionism by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali's Realism Mastery

"In April 1926 Dali made his first trip to Paris where he met Pablo Picasso."


Realism has been the dominant style of painting since the Renaissance. Realism focus on painting an accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favor of close observation of outward appearances. 1926 was an important year in Dali's artistic career, In April 1926 Dali made his first trip to Paris where he met Pablo Picasso, whom he revered. Picasso had already heard favorable reports about Dali from Joan Miró, a fellow Catalan who later introduced him to many Surrealists. Also, Dali left the Royal Academy in 1926, shortly before his final exams. the same year Dali painted "a basket of bread", using oil painting traditional techniques, Dali was trying to master realism, with a composition of an apprentice and a pale color palette the artwork came out to light was not what Dali aimed for. In 1928 Dali created his masterpiece of art Seated girl "seen from the back", with an outstanding composition, and excellent work with light, this piece of art is a pure example of an Expressive Realistic style.


the basket of bread, oil painting on canvas, 1926 Realism style by Salvador Dali
the basket of bread, oil painting on canvas, 1926 Realism style by Salvador Dali


Seated girl seen from the back, 1928 Realism style, by Salvador Dali
Seated girl "seen from the back", 1928 Realism style, by Salvador Dali



Salvador Dali's Expressionistic Fingerprints

"Expressionism as a tool of expression and societal commentary."

"Dali has metamorphosized his sister into a monumental female figure in the style of Picasso."


Expressionism is an artistic style in which the artist expresses not the objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person. Expressionism in general, as an art wave, is very broad and difficult to characterize. It spans different mediums, movements, and periods. Expressionism was therefore not defined by a set of techniques or artistic principles but as a tool of expression and societal commentary. Following his visit to Paris in 1926, when Dali met Picasso for the first time, Dali returned home and produced this somewhat disturbing painting "figure on the rocks" which was exhibited in Barcelona in the autumn of that year. The woman stretched out on the rocks is again Ana Maria, whose features can be identified in the shadow of the profile cast onto her arm. However, Dali has metamorphosized his sister into a monumental female figure in the style of Picasso.


figure on the rocks Expressionism 1926
figure on the rocks Expressionism 1926


How Did Salvador Dali Influence Surrealism?

"Dali's surrealism influenced by Freud"


From 1927 Dali's work became increasingly influenced by Surrealism, Dali's works featured many elements that were to become characteristic of his Surrealist period including dreamlike images, precise draftsmanship, idiosyncratic iconography (such as rotting donkeys and dismembered bodies), and lighting and landscapes strongly evocative of his native Catalonia. Influenced by his reading of Freud, Dali increasingly introduced suggestive sexual symbolism into his work. in 1928 Dali submitted "Dialogue on the Beach (Unsatisfied Desires)" to the Barcelona Autumn Salon, but the work was rejected as "it was not fit to be exhibited in any gallery habitually visited by the numerous public little prepared for certain surprises." Dali's masterpiece and one of the most famous Surrealist paintings "The Persistence of Memory" was completed in August 1931, a surrealistic image of soft, melting pocket watches. The general interpretation of the work is that the soft watches are a rejection of the assumption that time is rigid or deterministic. This idea is supported by other images in the work, such as the wide expanding landscape, and other limp watches shown being devoured by ants.



unsatisfied desires 1928 oil painting by Salvador Dali Surrealism
unsatisfied desires 1928 oil painting by Salvador Dali Surrealism


The Persistence of Memory, oil painting on canvas, by Salvador Dali
The Persistence of Memory, oil painting on canvas, by Salvador Dali

Dali Was Not Just A Surrealist

"I’d like to refer to Dali as someone who dedicated his entire life to his art."


Dali lived in France throughout the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939) before leaving for the United States in 1940 where he achieved commercial success. He returned to Spain in 1948 where he announced his return to the Catholic faith and developed his "nuclear mysticism" style, based on his interest in classicism, mysticism, and recent scientific developments. Some trends in Dali's work that would continue throughout his life were already evident in the 1920s. Dali was influenced by many styles of art, ranging from the most academically classic to the most cutting-edge avant-garde. Two major museums devoted to Salvador Dali's work, are the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain, and the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. On the morning of 23 January 1989, Dali died of cardiac arrest at the age of 84, since Dali had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres in 1918, Dali painted over 1170 paintings to establish his own legacy.



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