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Part 2 of Dalí
20th Century European Art
20th Century Overview

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Basement / European / Before WW I / overview p1 

 European Art before the
First World War

Salvador Dalí


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Dali: Self  Salvador Dalí
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí

born: Figueras, Spain; 2 May 1904
died: Barcelona, Spain; 23 January 1989

Salvador Dalí was the second son of Salvador Dalí y Cusi, a notary, and Felipa Domènech. Their first son died of spinal meningitis age, 7, three years before Dalí was born. In 1908, Ana María, Dalí’s sister, was born. Dalí was spoiled as a child; his only restriction was he could only eat at meals. Some suspect that his fascination with food throughout his life and its visual representation in his art came from this regimen. Dalí's artistic talent was evident from an early age and encouraged by his father.



When Dalí was ten, in 1914, he began his education at a private school run by the Catholic Church. He was not an attentive student. However, he did like his art classes.

Spain remained neutral throughout the First World. Since Dalí was in school in Spain the whole time, the war barely affected him.

Dalí: Landscape near Figural

Landscape near Figueras
Astoria Collection
Astoria, NY, US

Dalí: Vilberrtrin

Private Collection

Dalí: The Sick Child

The Sick Child
(Self-portrait at Cadaqués)
about 1914
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US

Dalí: Fiesta in Figueras

Fiesta in Figueras
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US

Dalí: [sketch] Witches and the Fall of Eve

Witches and
the Fall of Eve


Dalí: Hortensia, Peasant Woman

a Peasant Woman
from Cadaqués
about 1918-19
Private Collection


In 1916 on a summer vacation, Dalí encountered modern painting, and soon he was trying some of the techniques he had seen. The next year he began a formal study of drawing under Professor Juan Nuñez at the Municipal School of Drawing in Figueras. And in 1918, the city of Figueras presented two exhibits of Dalí's paintings in the upper foyer of the Teatro Municipal, sponsored by his father. In this same period Dalí began experimenting with impressionism and pointillism.


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Floor B / 20th C. / European / Between Wars 

 European Art between the
World Wars

Salvador Dalí


Dali: Self  Salvador Dalí
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí

born: Figueras, Spain; 2 May 1904
died: Barcelona, Spain; 23 January 1989



In February of 1921 Dalí’s mother died. Dalí, age 17, moves to Madrid to study in the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts. That year, Dalí also made friends with Luis Buñuel and the poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

Dalí: Self 1920

Self-portrait with
the Neck of Raphael
Gift to Spain


Dalí: Ricardo Pichot, cellist

Ricardo Pichot, cellist
Private Collection

Dalí: Saltimbanques

Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US

Dalí: The Picnic

The Picnic

Dalí: My Father

My Father
Gift to Spain


Dalí: My Mother

My Mother
Dofia Felipa Dome
Domenech De Dalí
Private Collection

Dalí: Luis Bunuel

Luis Buñuel
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Madrid, Spain


Dalí: Gir at the Window

Girl at the Window
Museum of Contemporary Art
Madrid, Spain

Dalí: Homage to Erik Satie

Homage to Erik Satie
Dalí Foundation
Figueras, Spain

Dalí: Figure Between the Rocks

Figure Between the Rocks
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US

In 1923 Dalí was suspended from the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts because he lead a student protest against the appointment of a mediocre painter to the post of professor. Lorca, whose charisma always put him in charge, and who with Dalí led the local group of forward looking artistic students (Lorca was a writer, others worked in play production, drawing, sculpture, and music). Lorca and Dalí became were close friends. Again causing trouble Dalí was imprisoned for 35 days in the Garner for subversion; he considered it a badge of honor.

Dalí: Venus and a Sailor

Venus and a Sailor
Ikeda Museum of
Twentieth Century Art
Shizuoka, Japan

Dalí: Still Life by Moonlight

Still Life by Moonlight
Dalí Foundation
Figueras, Spain

After his imprisonment Dalí returned to Figueras; Garcia Lorca came for an extended visit, and lived with the Dalí family. Dalí had turned 20 and he tried to persuade his father that he should go to Paris to continue his studies. In the shadow of WW I, his father was not convinced. However to explore possibilities his father arranged a trip to visit Brussels and Paris with Dalí, his aunt, and his sister. In Paris, Dalí visited Versailles, the art museums, Miró and Picasso. Mañuel Ortiz, a friend Garcia Lorca, introduced Dalí to Picasso

In 1925, Dalí's first real one-man show is held at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona. He received considerable local notice as a leading young Catalan painter. At the end of that summer, Dalí returns to the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. The next year, Dalí's second one-man show was held at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona and Dalí was expelled from the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts for refusal to take his final examination on grounds that he knew more than the professors.

In 1927 Dalí, at 23, serves nine months military service, he and Lorca remain best friends.

Dalí: [photo] Garcia Lorca and Salvadore Dali

Garcia Lorca
Salvador Dalí
about 1927

Dalí does theater designs, including Lorca’s Mariana Pineda. Toward the end of the year, the relationship between Dalí and Lorca cooled.

In 1928, on Dalí’s second visit to Paris, Miró introduces him to Dadaists and Surrealists group.

Dalí: Lugubrious Game

Lugubrious Game
Private Collection

Dalí: The Great Masturbator

The Great Masturbator
Museo Nacional Reina Sofia
Madrid, Spain

Dalí: Paul Éluard

Paul Éluard
Cecile Éluard
Boaretto Collection

In the late 20s, Dalí developed his own photo realist painting style with subject matter that is characteristic of a dream reality. The symbols in the pictures are often drawn from Freudian symbolism and from Dalí's own developing symbolic vocabulary. He was both attracted and horrified by sex. He was obsessed with large cocks (represented by baguettes), fellatio, and sodomy. He used a lion head to represented his own sexual hunger. These images and along with several others run as symbolic leitmotifs through Dalí's early art. In later life Dalí tended to replace these personal leitmotifs with less gooey, more intellectual ones.

The year 1929 was Dalí's big year: First Dalí and Buñuel made the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou. Camera work on the film was done in the spring in Paris, and at that time Dalí met Tristan Tzara, and the remainder of the surrealist crowd. That summer René Magritte and his wife, Luis Buñuel, and the French poet Paul Éluard with his wife Gala came to Cadaqués to visit Dalí. Gala Éluard's full name was Helena Devulina Diakanoff; she was the daughter of a Russian lawyer. Dalí immediately fell madly in love with Gala, and within a week he proposed marriage in a walk along the beach. She agreed to divorcing her husband and marrying Dalí.

The picture of Éluard shown above was finished just after Dalí had seducced Éluard's wife. Salvador's liaison with a married woman along with other actions that seem to discredit the Dalí family angered his father and finally resulted a family split. With this split, he also lost his father's monetary support.

If you are lost as to where all this happened, check out the map of Dalí Territory; click on the map for an enlargement!



In the late 1920s and early 1930s, His paintings began to sell. Dalí's public behavior became more and more bizarre. Which was great for marketing. He created a theory for his art which he called the "paranoiac-critical method".

In 1930 he bought a fisherman's cottage at Port Lligat, near Cadaqués. Throughout the 30s he commuted between France and Spain, living part of the year in each country. He inhabited Paris to enhance his reputation and sell art. He lived in Spain to work and be with Gala.


Dalí: Invisible Man

Invisible Man
Gift to Spain


Dalí: Vertigo

Private Collection

Dalí: Anthropomorphic Bread

Anthropomorphic Bread
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US

Dalí: Ordinary French Loaf with Two Fried Eggs Riding without a Plate trying to Sodomize a Heel of a Portuguese Loaf

Ordinary French Loaf
with Two Fried Eggs
Riding without a Plate,
Trying to Sodomize
a Heel of
a Portuguese Loaf

Private Collection


Dalí: Persistence of Memory

The Persistence
of Memory
Museum of Modern Art
New York, NY, US


In 1933, collectors and friends form "The Zodiaque" group, whose sole purpose is to subsidize Dalí, now completely cut off from his father's allowance and short of funds. Julien Levy Gallery, New York, organizes Dalí’s first one-man show in the United States.

In January of 1934 Gala and Dalí got married in a civil ceremony. Dalí and Gala then made their first trip to New York, and Dalí created a series of special illustrations of New York which appeared in the American Weekly from February to July. He had a solo exhibition of his paintings in New York, which turned out to be a great success both financially and critically.


Dalí: Spector of Sex Appeal

Specter of Sex Appeal
Dalí Foundation
Figueras, Spain

Dalí: Gala and the "Angelus" of Millet Immediately Precedeing the Arrival of the Conic Anamorphosis

Gala and the
"Angelus" of Millet
Preceding the Arrival
of th
Conic Anamorphosis
The National Gallery
Ottawa, Canada

Dalí: Atavistic Ruins after the Rain

Atavistic Ruins
after the Rain

Perls Galleries
New York, NY, US

Dalí: Corrosive


Dalí: Appendage

about 1934



Dalí: Archeological Reminiscence of teh "Angeleus" of Millet

of the "Angelus"
by Millet
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US


In the middle of the thirty's, Dalí began to draw symbolically on The Angelus of Millet. It seems that Dalí and his critics were expressing a reservation about the whole symbolist vocabulary and it's meaning in art. While Dalí's dreamscapes were interesting -- there was (and still is) a feeling of vacancy in the images. There are emotional resonances, but these do not come from the symbolism so much as the art itself, and so Dalí's art always has a touch meaninglessness, superficiality, and insincerity. Dalí uses the Angelus of Millet to inject a sincere symbol. Which he continued to use in this way throughout his life. But, no symbol of sincerity can replace the real thing.

At the same time Dalí began to have arguments with the other Surrealists and in particular with André Breton, whose dictatorial style had raised Dalí's hackles. But the Surrealists needed his marketing skills and his infamy to make their art shows a success. So the hatchet was buried for a while.

In Spain of July 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Lorca, Dalí's teenage friend went to vacation in Granada. In early August, in some unknown event, Lorca was imprisioned by Franco's Fascists, who were in control of Granada. He was judged, found guilty of treason, and at dawn on the 18th Frederico Garcia Lorca along with a schoolmaster and two bullfighters were executed by a Fascist firing squad in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains near Granada. The cause for killing Lorca was not clear, he was not politically active against Franco, but he had left-wing friends, and he actively declared and promoted a gay lifestyle.

Dalí left Spain just before the Spanish Civil War started and visits America for the second time. He is honored by the Americans with a Time magazine cover picture.


Dalí: The Phantom Wagon

The Phantom Wagon
Private Collection


Dalí: Ghost of Bermeer wich can be used as a Surrealistic Table

Ghost of Vermeer
which can be used
as a Surrealistic Table
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US




Dalí: Mae West's Face with can be use as a Surrealistic Apartment

Mae West's Face
which can be
used as a
Surrealistic Apartment

The Art Institute
Chicago, IL, US

Dalí: Soft Construction with Boiled Beans

Soft Construction
with Boiled Beans
(Premonition of Civil War)
Museum of Art
Philadelphia, PA, US


Dalí: Autumn Canabalism

Autumn Cannibalism
Tate Gallery
London, England

Dalí: Freud

Private Collection


Dalí: [sculpture] Venus de Milo with Drawers

Venus de Milo with Drawers
Boymans-van-Beunigen Museum
Rotterdam, Netherlands


In 1937, Dalí visited Hollywood and wrote a screen play for the Marx Brothers. The Surrealists condemned his favorable comments on Hitler.

Dalí: Sleep

Boymans-van-Beunigen Museum
Rotterdam, Netherlands



Dalí: Burning Giraffe

Burning Giraffe
Emanuel Hoffman
Basel, Switzerland


Dalí: Weaning


Dalí: Apparation of a Fand and Fruit Dish on a Beach

Apparation of a
Face and Fruit Dish
on a Beach
The Sumner Collection
Hartford, CN, US


By the end of the thirties Dalí and the Surrealists were at complete odds. The Surrealists were unhappy with Dalí's infatuation with Nazism and Hitler. André Breton calls Dalí: "Avida Dollars", an anagram for 'Salvador Dalí' and a somewhat jealous, although generally accurate, remark on Dalí's commercial success. A remark that Dalí considered a complement. He was always proud of his acquisitive nature and his lack of generosity. Not that he didn't spend a lot of money on Gala and himself.

In November of 1939, Bacchanal, a ballet, is presented at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Dalí had written the libretto, done the set design; choreography for the ballet was by Leonide Massine.




In 1940 The Dalís flee from Arcachon, France, shortly before the Nazi invasion, taking the SS Excambion from Lisbon to the United States, paid for by Picasso. They remain in exile in the States until 1948, arriving first at the Hampton Manor in Virginia (the home of Dalí's friend Caresse Crosby), then traveling between the Del Monte Lodge in Pebble Beach, California, and the St. Regis Hotel in New York. Most of the 1940s the Dalís lived in exile in the United States.


Dalí: The Poetry of America (Cosmic Athletes)

The Poetry of America
( Cosmic Athletes)
Dalí Foundation
Figueras, Spain

Dalí: Geopolitical Child Watching the Birth of the New Man

Geopolitical Child
Watching the Birth
of the New Man
Salvador Dalí Museum
St Petersburg, FL, US

Dalí: Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde
Dalí Foundation
Figueras, Spain



Dalí: Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate, a Second before Waking Up

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee
around a Pomegranate,
a Second before Waking Up

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection
Lugano-Castagnola, Italy


In 1946 Dalí worked on a Walt Disney cartoon (which was never finished), and also on Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound. They didn't return to Paris until 1948 well after the war, and recovery had begun.


Part II of Dalí, continuing the story after World War II.


Back to European Art between the world wars
20th Century European Art
20th Century Overview