"Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy — the joy of being Salvador Dalí — and I ask myself in rapture, "What wonderful things this Salvador Dalí is going to accomplish today?"A notorious self-publicist, self-styled mad genius, eccentric and often dramatically theatrical, Salvador Dali is considered by many to be one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, although he was also a sculptor, graphic artist, designer and film maker.
— Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí
Born on May 11, 1904 in Catalonia, Spain into a middle-class family, he first discovered painting on a summer vacation to Cadeques. His great muse and inspiration was his wife Gala, eleven years his senior, whom he met when he was 25.
Known mostly for his work as a surrealist painter (surrealism has been described as art that is not real but above real), Dali's paintings depicted bizarre dreamlike states. He described his pictures as "hand-painted dream photographs" and he had many favourite recurring images, among them burning giraffes! One of Dali's trademarks was the melting clock, which symbolized his feeling that time was irrelevant and he often incorporated himself in his paintings, in the same bent and flowing style.
Dali's work is often exuberant and vigorous, with strong, vivid colours applied in a painterly manner. There are also Dali paintings with an intense, brooding quality - darkened landscapes, ominous skies, abstract figures often huddled together against the external world. Classically trained and a superb draftsman, he was strongly influenced by Picasso and Cubism in his early works, developing his own surrealist style in the 1930s, a different way of perceiving reality and one which he called "paranoic critical."
After Gala's death in 1982, he lapsed into morbid depression and there were rumours of attempted suicides. He was finally taken into the care of friends and died on January 23, 1989, in Figueras.