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“I wet my bed till I was eight for the sheer fun of it. I was the absolute monarch of the house. Nothing was good enough for me. My father and mother worshiped me.” Dali’s life was a mystery that attracted controversy and the interest of many people making him a public image, a status that he enjoyed. Dali is renowned for his art that connected different ideas to his vision of reality. Born in 1904 in Spain, Dali was encouraged to practice the art and eventually he went to study at the San Fernando Academy of Art. In the 1920’s Dali went to Paris where he started interacting with other artists such as Magritte, Picasso, and Miro. Salvador Dali’s work was influenced by surrealism and his notorious persona that defies normalcy and this attitude is also reflected in his paintings and writings.
Dali’s life as a painter started at an early age when he started taking interest in art. Although in his bibliography he says, “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since”, pointing out that his ideas were ever changing. These dreams did not materialize because according to Dali, “When I was six, it was a sin for me to eat food of any kind in the kitchen. Going into this part of the house was one of the few things categorically forbidden me by my parents. However, he had the freedom to do everything else that he wished including making painting and drawing for his family during summer. His art career officially kicked off when he joined the school of art in Madrid and soon after he took his eccentricity to another level when he started growing long hair, sideburns, mustache, and dressing like the English Aesthetes. This became his signature style. His work was influenced by different artistic style particularly the surrealism and cubism. Dali joined the surrealist movement in 1929 where he was welcomed into the circle of artists who accepted his work. The prevailing political atmosphere also influenced his work and before joining the surrealists, Dali had partnered with his friend to make a film that depicted the violence in society. Nevertheless, it should be noted that his political ideas were independent and he did not have any political preferences. However, his work was not without struggles mainly because of his carefree nature and independence. For example, he clashed with the surrealist movement members as World War II approached for failing to take a political stance. As a result, Dali was expelled but this did not stop him from thriving in his art career.
Dali has many paintings, writings, and films under his name. The most outstanding painting is called Persistence of Memory (1931). The painting has been a center of debate regarding its meaning. It contains the image of a melting pocket watch, a human figure that looks strange, and an orange clock covered by ants. The ants are a symbol of decay while the figure of the human represents a memory that is not clear in the mind because the figure is not well-formed. The soft watch also appears in another of Dali’s work called Premature Ossification of a Railroad Station. The painting is believed to be inspired by a surrealist view of a Camembert that melting in the sun. This shows that his paintings were largely influenced by surrealism.
Although Dali’s work was inspired by his interest in psychoanalysis and science there is more to it than the influences of the two disciplines. He was an intellectual and his work shows that his flamboyant persona was a deliberate act of capturing a public eye. Dali always questioned reality and his behaviors in real life showed this aspect because of his inability to conform to normal behaviors. For example, while in school he was expelled from school in 1923 for starting a riot and criticizing his teachers. He was also arrested for supporting a separatist movement but was later released. When he returned to the academy in 1926, he was again expelled permanently for saying that the members of the faculty were not competent enough to give him an exam. These examples show his tendency to question things and to discredit reality. Dali artwork and writings were as notorious as his personality. He always wore an exaggerated mustache, a walking stick, a cape, and his public appearance showed some unusual behavior especially in the dress code. Similarly, his work was not usual. For example, when his design for trade fair was rejected in America, he published an article called Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to His Own Madness in response. Therefore, a colorful and unusual persona that defied the norm and societal expectation was evident also in his mysterious work.
In conclusion, Dali’s work portrays his unique perception of the world and his tendency to question reality and this is also evident in the behaviors he inhabited in public. His work is highly influenced in surrealism and his own perception of reality. For example, his iconic painting known as Persistence of Memory is a surrealist piece that portrayed his thinking. The most interesting thing about Dali is his flamboyant persona characterized by his long mustache and dressing code. Salvador Dali was a mysterious person who awed people with his exaggerated, unusual style and perception that was also incorporated in his well-respected work.
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