Life Story

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Birth of the artist (1904-1921)


  • 1904
  • Born on 11 May in Figueres (Girona), the son of notary Salvador Dalí Cusí and Felipa Domènech Ferrés.

  • 1908
  • Birth of his only sister, Anna Maria. His father enrols him in the public nursery school of Figueres, with Esteban Trayter as teacher.

  • 1910
  • Two years later, and given the failure of the young Dalí in this school, his father decides to enrol him in the Spanish-French primary school of the Inmaculada in Figueres, where he learns French, his future cultural language.

  • 1915
  • He attends the classes of Professor Juan Núñez at the municipal drawing school in Figueres. During this year and the following year, Salvador Dalí illustrates stories for his sister who is suffering from an illness.

  • 1916
  • He spends some time in the surroundings of Figueres, at the Molí de la Torre property belonging to the Pichot family – a family of intellectuals and artists – where, thanks to the collection belonging to painter Ramon Pichot, he discovers Impressionism. After a mediocre primary schooling, he begins secondary school in the autumn at the Marist Brothers’ school and at the Figueres secondary school.

  • 1919
  • He participates in a collective exhibition in the salons of the Societat de Concerts in the Municipal Theatre of Figueres (the future Dalí Theatre-Museum). With a group of high school friends, he founds the magazine Studium, in which he publishes his first writings. He begins a personal diary under the title My life, My Impressions and Private Memories, which he continues the following year.

  • 1920
  • As a condition of being a painter, his father required he study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, in order to obtain a teacher’s qualification. Dalí accepts.

  • 1921
  • In February, his mother dies. The following year, his father marries Catalina Domènech Ferrés, sister of the deceased.

1904

Born on 11 May in Figueres (Girona), the son of notary Salvador Dalí Cusí and Felipa Domènech Ferrés.

Years of training (1922-1928)


  • 1922
  • He takes part in the "Competition-exhibition of student's original works" of the Catalan Students’ Association, hosted at the Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona, where his work Market receives the University Rector’s prize. In Madrid, he studies at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and moves into the Students' Residence. He becomes friends with a group of young people who, over time, will become important intellectual and artistic personalities of the twentieth century: Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca, Pedro Garfias, Eugenio Montes and Pepín Bello, among others.

  • 1923
  • Dalí is expelled from the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, accused of having led a student revolt against the failure of the nomination of the painter Daniel Vázquez Díaz to the School’s chair of painting. He returns to Figueres, where he resumed his classes with Juan Núñez, who teaches him the techniques of engraving.

  • 1924
  • In autumn, he returns to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts where he is obliged to repeat his year.

  • 1925
  • He takes part in the "First Exhibition of the Society of Iberian Artists" in Madrid and his first solo exhibition is presented at Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona. This is his phase of rejection of the avant-garde. Federico García Lorca spends his holidays with Dalí in Cadaqués.

  • 1926
  • He participates in several exhibitions in Madrid and Barcelona. In the company of his aunt and his sister, he makes his first trip to Paris, a city where he meets Picasso and visits the Musée du Louvre. He is finally expelled from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Madrid for having declared the jury that was to examine him incompetent. He returns to Figueres again and devotes himself intensively to painting.

  • 1927
  • He holds his second solo exhibition at the Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona and takes part in the "Second Autumn Salon" at the Sala Parés in Barcelona. The works presented reveal the first influences of surrealism. With the publication of the article “San Sebastián" devoted to Lorca, he begins a regular and ongoing collaboration with the avant-garde magazine L'Amic de les Arts which will continue until 1929.

  • 1928
  • With Lluís Montanyà and Sebastià Gasch, he publishes the Yellow Manifesto (Anti-Catalan Manifesto) which violently attacks conventional art. He participates in the "Third Autumn Salon" at the Sala Parés and in the "27th International Painting Exhibition" in Pittsburgh (USA).

1922

He takes part in the "Competition-exhibition of student's original works" of the Catalan Students’ Association, hosted at the Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona, where his work Market receives the University Rector’s prize. In Madrid, he studies at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and moves into the Students' Residence. He becomes friends with a group of young people who, over time, will become important intellectual and artistic personalities of the twentieth century: Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca, Pedro Garfias, Eugenio Montes and Pepín Bello, among others.

Surrealism (1929-1939)


  • 1929
  • He returns to Paris and, thanks to Joan Miró, makes contact with the group of surrealists, led by André Breton. The film Un Chien andalou, the result of his collaboration with Luis Buñuel, is screened at the Studio des Ursulines in Paris. He spends the summer in Cadaqués, where he receives visits from the gallery owner Camille Goemans and his companion, from René Magritte and his wife, Luis Buñuel, Paul Eluard and Gala, and their daughter, Cécile. From this moment, Gala will be remain forever at his side. His first solo exhibition takes place at the Goemans Gallery in Paris. This is the year of his break with his family.

  • 1930
  • L'Âge d’or, the second film made in collaboration with Buñuel, is given an exclusive screening at Studio 28 in Paris. Les Éditions Surréalistes publishes his book The Visible Woman, a collection of texts that have already been published in various journals, such as "The Rotting Donkey", in which are laid the foundations of his paranoiac-critical method.
    At the beginning of the 1930s, Dalí founds his own style, his particular language and the form of expression that will accompany him all his life despite the changes and evolutions of his work: a mixture of avant-garde and tradition. His first Impressionist paintings are eclipsed, as well as his works influenced, among other movements, by Cubism, Purism and Futurism. Dalí is completely integrated into the surrealist group and this marks the beginning of his consecration as a painter.

  • 1931
  • He holds his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Colle in Paris where he exhibits his The Persistance of Memory. He takes part in the first surrealist exhibition in the United States, which takes place at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. His book Love and memory is published.

  • 1932
  • He participates in the "Surrealism: Paintings, Drawings and Photographs exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. His second solo show is held at the Galerie Pierre Colle in Paris. His book Babaouo, in which he sets out his concept of cinema, is published. At the end of this year, Dalí announces the creation of the Zodiac Group to the Vicomte de Noailles: a group of friends who band together to help Salvador Dalí financially, commissioning works from him that they buy regularly.

  • 1933
  • The first issue of the Parisian magazine Minotaure publishes the prologue of the book – which will remain unpublished until 1963 – "Paranoiac-critical Interpretation of the obsessive image of Millet’s Angelus". He participates in the collective surrealist exhibition at the Pierre Colle Gallery, in which he also presents his third solo show. First solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York.

  • 1934
  • He marries Gala (born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) in a civil ceremony. He takes part in the 'Fiftieth anniversary exhibition" of the Salon des Indépendants at the Grand Palais in Paris, without heeding the decision taken by the rest of the surrealists who have decided not to participate; this fact that practically leads to his expulsion from the group led by Breton. He holds his first solo exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery in London. He embarks with Gala aboard the SS Champlain for his first trip to the United States. Two solo exhibitions of Dalí’s work are organized: one at the Julien Levy Gallery and the other at the Avery Memorial at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.

  • 1935
  • The couple returns to Europe aboard the Normandie. In March, Salvador Dalí goes to Figueres where a family reconciliation takes place. Les Éditions Surréalistes publishes his book The Conquest of the Irrational.

  • 1936
  • In May, he takes part in the "Surrealist Exhibition of Objects" at the Charles Ratton Gallery in Paris. In June, he participates in the "International Surrealist Exhibition", which is held at the New Burlington Galleries in London. On 14 December, the Time magazine  devotes its cover to him, with a photograph by Man Ray. He participates in the “Fantastic Art, Dada Surrealism” exhibition at the MoMA in New York. He is soon again at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York which holds his third solo exhibition.

  • 1937
  • In February, he meets the Marx brothers in Hollywood. He begins working with Harpo on the screenplay for a film, Giraffes on Horseback Salad (known in its last version as The Surrealist Woman), which is never produced. Dalí and Gala return to Europe. Les Éditions Surréalistes publishes his poem Métamorphose de Narcisse which is published at the same time in English by Julien Levy.

  • 1938
  • On 17 January, the inauguration is held of the "International Surrealism Exhibition" at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris, organised by André Breton and Paul Eluard. At the entrance of the gallery Salvador Dalí’s Rainy Taxi is on display. Dalí visits Sigmund Freud in London.

  • 1939
  • In March, a solo exhibition is presented at the Julien Levy Gallery. He designs the Dream of Venus pavilion, which is presented in the entertainment area of the World’s Fair of New York. At the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Bacchanale, a ballet is performed for the first time with libretto, costumes and sets by Salvador Dalí and choreography by Léonide Massine. Breton’s article, “The most recent trends of Surrealist painting”, announces the expulsion of Dalí from the surrealist group. In September, the couple returns to Europe.

1929

He returns to Paris and, thanks to Joan Miró, makes contact with the group of surrealists, led by André Breton. The film Un Chien andalou, the result of his collaboration with Luis Buñuel, is screened at the Studio des Ursulines in Paris. He spends the summer in Cadaqués, where he receives visits from the gallery owner Camille Goemans and his companion, from René Magritte and his wife, Luis Buñuel, Paul Eluard and Gala, and their daughter, Cécile. From this moment, Gala will be remain forever at his side. His first solo exhibition takes place at the Goemans Gallery in Paris. This is the year of his break with his family.

Return to Classicism (1940-1958)


  • 1940
  • With the arrival of German troops in Bordeaux, the Dalí couple goes to live in the United States, where they stay until 1948.

  • 1941
  • He develops an interest in the creation of jewellery, which will continue throughout his career. Dalí begins his collaboration with photographer Philippe Halsman, which continues until his death in 1979. He exhibits at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. On 8 October, the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo performs Labyrinth ballet for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera House, with libretto, set and costumes by Dalí, choreography by Léonide Massine and music by Schubert. The MoMA of New York opens an anthological exhibition of Dalí and Miró on 18 November.

  • 1942
  • Dial Press of New York publishes The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, completed the year before.

  • 1943
  • On 21 March, Reynolds Morse and his wife buy their first Dalí painting, marking the beginning of an important collection of works by the painter. In May, the artist plans a new ballet, El Café de Chinitas, based on a real story adapted by Federico García Lorca, which is performed in Detroit and at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

  • 1944
  • In October, at the International Theater in New York, the International Ballet presents Sentimental Colloquy with sets by Dalí. Dial Press publishes Dalí’s first novel, Hidden Faces. On 15 December, Mad Tristan, the first paranoiac ballet on the eternal myth of love in death, is performed for the first time in New York. The set by Dalí is based on the musical themes of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

  • 1945
  • Dalí travels to Hollywood to work with Alfred Hitchcock in the film Spellbound for which he realises the dream sequences. The "Recent paintings by Salvador Dalí" exhibition is inaugurated at the Bignou Gallery. On this occasion, he presents the first issue of Dalí News, which he publishes himself and in which he speaks only of his character and his work.

  • 1946
  • He produces illustrations for various books: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, published by Doubleday; The First Part of The Life and Achievements of the Renowned Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes published by Random House of New York. Walt Disney hires Dalí to collaborate on the production of Destino.

  • 1947
  • Doubleday publishes Essays of Michel de Montaigne, chosen and illustrated by the artist.

  • 1948
  • Publication of 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship. In July, the Dalís return to Spain.

  • 1949
  • At the end of the 1940s, he begins his mystical and nuclear period – concerning which he has laid the foundations in his Mystical Manifesto in 1951– marked by the discussion of religious and scientific themes. He shows himself particularly interested in the scientific progress regarding nuclear fusion and fission. In his creations of this period, we can observe the influence of the atomic bomb and its effects on his own creativity.

  • 1950
  • Dalí writes articles for magazines such as Vogue and Herald American. He gives a lecture “Why I was sacrilegious, why I am mystic”  at the Ateneo Barcelonés. In September, his father dies.

  • 1951
  • In Paris Dalí presents the Mystical Manifesto with works of this period. He gives a lecture entitled “Picasso and I” at the María Guerrero Theatre in Madrid.

  • 1952–1953
  • He writes various articles for French periodicals, such as: Arts, Le Courrier des lettres and Connaissance des Arts.

  • 1954
  • Dalí exhibits drawings at Palazzo Pallavicini in Rome to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy. He produces the illustrations for various books: The True Story of Lidia de Cadaqués by Eugeni d’Ors and  Ballad of the shoemaker Ordis by Carles Fages de Climent, for which Dalí also writes the epilogue.

  • 1956
  • He publishes his treatise on modern art, The Cuckolds of antiquated modern art. He gives a lecture-tribute to Gaudí at the Parc Güell in Barcelona where he also creates a work in front of those present.

  • 1958
  • On 8 August, Dalí and Gala marry in a religious ceremony at the Santuari dels Àngels in Sant Martí Vell, near Girona.

1940

With the arrival of German troops in Bordeaux, the Dalí couple goes to live in the United States, where they stay until 1948.

Contemporary experimentations (1960-1979)


  • 1960
  • He films a documentary, Chaos and Creation, in collaboration with Philippe Halsman.

  • 1961
  • This marks the beginning of the administration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum. In August, his hometown pays tribute to him.

  • 1963
  • He publishes "The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus : Paranoiac-critical Interpretation", of which the manuscript was lost when he left Arcachon in 1940.

  • 1964
  • He is awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic, the highest distinction in Spain. A major retrospective organised by Mainichi Newspapers is inaugurated in Tokyo; the exhibition then travels to various Japanese cities. Editions de La Table Ronde publishes Diary of a genius.

  • 1965
  • Inauguration of the anthological exhibition "Salvador Dalí 1910-1965" at the Gallery of Modern Art in New York.

  • 1966
  • Albin Michel of Paris publishes Dalí’s book, Open letter to Salvador Dalí, with thirty-three illustrations by the artist. alks with Salvador Dalí is also published, a series of conversations with Alain Bosquet.

  • 1968
  • He participates in the "Dada, Surrealism and their Heritage" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The result of conversations with Louis Pauwels, the book The passions according to Dalí is published. That same year, Dalí de Draeger is published, produced in collaboration with the painter.

  • 1969
  • He buys the castle of Púbol which he decorates for Gala. In the 1960s and ’70s, the artist’s interest for science and holography increases, offering him new perspectives in his constant quest for mastery of three-dimensional images. Dalí studies and uses the possibilities offered by new scientific discoveries, especially those relating to the third dimension. He is interested in all the processes that aim to offer a viewer the impression of three dimensions and three-dimensional space.

  • 1970
  • He holds a press conference at the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris where he announces the creation of the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. The Boijmans-Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam organises a major retrospective of his work, which then travels the following year to the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden (Germany).

  • 1971
  • Inauguration of The Dalí Museum in Cleveland (Ohio), including the collection of Albert Reynolds Morse. Under the title of Oui, the artist publishes an anthology of texts of various periods.

  • 1972
  • The world’s first hologram exhibition, which Dalí created in collaboration with Dennis Gabor, is presented at the Knoedler Gallery.

  • 1973
  • At the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, one year before its inauguration, a presentation is made of the "Dalí. His art in jewellery" exhibition. His book The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dalí with a prologue and notes by André Parinaud, is published, as well as Dinners of Gala by Draeger. The Humlebeak Louisiana Museum holds a retrospective of Dalí, which subsequently travels to Stockholm’s Museet Moderne.

  • 1974
  • He writes the preface to and illustrates Sigmund Freud’s book, Moses and Monotheism. On 28 September, the Dalí Theatre-Museum is inaugurated.

  • 1977
  • Draeger publishes The Wines of Gala.

  • 1978
  • At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, he presents his first hyper-stereoscopic painting, Dalí Lifting the Skin of the Mediterranean Sea to Show Gala the Birth of Venus.

  • 1979
  • Dalí is named foreign associate member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institut de France. Inauguration of the major Dalí retrospective at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. For this exhibition, Dalí operates in the surrounding urban space. In the middle of the 1980s, he paints what will be his last works, basically inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael, whom he had always admired.

1960

He films a documentary, Chaos and Creation, in collaboration with Philippe Halsman.

The last years (1980-1989)


  • 1980
  • From 14 May to 29 June, a retrospective of Salvador Dalí is presented at the Tate Gallery in London, where a total of 250 works are shown.

  • 1982
  • Inauguration of The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg (Florida), the property of Reynolds Morse and his wife. On 10 June, Gala dies in Portlligat. King Don Juan Carlos I awards him the title of Marquis de Púbol. Salvador Dalí settles in the castle of Púbol.

  • 1983
  • A large anthological exhibition, "400 works by Salvador Dalí from 1914 to 1983", is held in Madrid, Barcelona and Figueres. His last painted works date from this period.

  • 1984
  • Following a fire at the castle of Púbol, Dalí definitively moves to Torre Galatea, Figueres, where he lives until his death.

  • 1989
  • He dies in Figueres on 23 January 1989. A major retrospective, "Salvador Dalí 1904-1989", opens at the Staatsgallerie Stuttgart, and later travels to the Kunsthaus in Zurich.

1980

From 14 May to 29 June, a retrospective of Salvador Dalí is presented at the Tate Gallery in London, where a total of 250 works are shown.