Dali is one of the most famous & prolific artist of the twentieth century he is mostly remembered for his paintings, however during his lengthy career he also turned to sculpture, printmaking, fashion, advertising, writing, and most famously his work in film-making with Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock. Dali is also remembered for his unusual personality & his technical skill. It is apparent that his early work was very similar to Pablo Picasso due to the way that he used form & structure throughout his work. His paintings may also have been influenced by his extreme interest in Classical & Renaissance Art.
Pierrot with a Guitar, 1925
Dali tried to convey the themes of sexual desire, death and decay; this is clear throughout his work. He also illustrated his knowledge and understanding of Freud’s psychoanalytical theories of his time. His work reflected his learning experiences and childhood memories. Dali’s work often included already accepted symbolism such as fetishes, animal imagery and religious symbols.
Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate
He also accepted the surrealist André Breton’s theory of automatism, which is the theory of tapping the unconscious mind. Dali referred to this as ‘critical paranoia which is where ‘one could be delusional while maintaining one’s sanity’. This was also defined by Dali as a form of irrational knowledge. This method is apparent throughout most of his fellow surrealist work and his own surrealist work as well.
His unusual personality started at the age of 10 during his first drawing lessons where he claimed that he displayed hysterical, rage-filled outbursts towards his family and friends.
Even though most of his paintings were surreal he maintained his love for Catalan culture which he displayed through the surrounding landscape in several of his paintings.
The persistence of memory, 1931
Dali abandoned his Pointillism style after he won a bet that he could ‘paint a prize winning Pointillism picture by splashing paint at a canvas from a distance of three feet’. Dali became extremely interested in the Futurism movement when he visited Paris in 1920. From this he attempted to recreate emotion and show objects from simultaneous multiple angles. During this period Dali began to consider dramatically re-interpreting the meaning of reality and altering perception.
In 1924 Dali was expelled from the Art Academy; however he was already exhibiting his work locally.
During his mature period he began experimenting with a Cubist style due to his influence from Pablo Picasso, who he met in Paris in 1929. This exhibition explored symbolism and his passion for the sub-conscious.
For the next several years Dali’s paintings illustrated his theories about the psychological state of paranoia and its importance as subject matter. He painted symbolic objects that reflected his sexualised fears of father figures, as well as symbols that referred to his fear over the passing of life. He also claimed that he didn’t know the meanings behind the symbols in his paintings. Instead he claimed that his childhood was his inspiration.
The great masturbator, 1929
As the politics of war was at the forefront of the Surrealist debate, Breton expelled Dali from the surrealist movement in 1934 because of differing views on General Franco and fascism.