Flamboyant, egocentric, enigmatic. These qualities best describe the Spanish artist, Salvador Dali. His ingenious talent, layered with virtuosity and technical brilliance, was rivaled only by his unforgettable personality.
Throughout his long career, Dali tirelessly explored new media and theories. He created world famous paintings, drawings, prints, sculpters, jewelry, films and books, besides delving into molecular biology and nuclear physics. At the time of his death in 1989, he ranked with his fellow Spaniard, Pablo Picasso, as one of the two most influential and prolific figures in modern art.
The following is a timeline of his colorful life.
Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech was born May 11, 1904, in the Catalonian town of Figueras, near Barcelona, only sixteen miles from the French border. His family encouraged his early interest in art; a room in the family home was the young artist's first studio. In 1914 Dali began his education at a private school run by the Brothers of the Marist Order in Figueres. In 1916, on a summer vacation, Dali encountered modern paintings. In 1917, Dali studied drawing under Professor Juan Nuñez at the Municipal School of Drawing in Figueres. His first exhibition was at the family apartment. In 1918, the city of Figueres presented two exhibits of Dali’s works, which were arranged by his father in the upper foyer of the Teatro Municipal. This is now converted into the Teatro Museo Dali. Dali experiments with impressionism and pointillism. By 1919, Dali was contributing articles and illustrations to the local review Stadium, a college magazine, later published by the Institute of Figueres. He also published "Quand les Bruits s’endorment" (poems). In 1921, Dali enrolled at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid.
Dali’s mother died in February, 1922 while he was in residence at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. While there, he met Federico García Lorca and Luis Buñuel. He exhibited his paintings in a student art show at the Dalmau Gallery, Barcelona. During this period, he experimented with cubism. It was also a period of rebellion. In 1923, Dali criticized his lectures and was suspended from the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts on the charge of inciting a student rebellion against school authorities. Although Dali did very well in his studies, he was expelled from school because of his eccentric dress and bizarre behavior. In 1924, Dali was imprisoned for thirty-five days in Girona for alleged subversion. He also illustrated Les Bruixes de Llers by C. Fages de Climent. Lorca stays with the Dali family during 1925. Dali returned to the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid.
Early recognition of Dali's talent came with his first one-man show, held in at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona in 1925. He made numerous contributions to Gaseta de les Artes and received considerable local notice as a leading young Catalan painter. In April 1926, Dali made his first trip to Brussels and Paris with his aunt and his sister, Ana María, where he visited Picasso and Miró. Later that year, his second one-man show was held at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona. Dali was again expelled from the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts for refusal to take his final examination on grounds that he knew more than the professor.
In 1927, Dali was called to the Castle of San Fernando to do nine months of military service. During this year, he began doing theatre designs, including Lorca’s Mariana Pineda. He collaborated regularly on the journal L’Amic de les Arts, in which his first major written work, "Saint Sebastian," appeared. Dali was visited by Miró, who encouraged him to establish himself in Paris.
On Dali’s second visit to Paris in 1928, Miró introduced him to Dadaists and Surrealists group. He published the Manifest Groc ("Yellow Manifesto") in Sitges, Spain, with Lluís Montañyá and Sebastià Gasch. He became internationally known when three of his paintings, including the "Basket of Bread" were shown in the third annual Carnegie Inte
rnational Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928. Dali also executed a series of gravel collages revealing the influence of Gris, Picasso, Ernst, Miró, Arp, and other contemporaries.
It was at this time that Dali came under the influence of two forces that shaped his philosophy and art: Sigmund Freud's theory of the unconscious, and Surrealism's unconscious dream imagery. It was under the influence of the Surrealist Movement that Dali's style crystallized into the disturbing blend of precise realism and dreamlike fantasy that became his hallmark. Against desolate landscapes he painted unrelated and often bizarre objects. These pictures, described by Dali as "hand-painted unconscious dream forces", were produced by a creative method he called "paranoiac-critical activity". Dali's most characteristic works also showed the influence of Italian Renaissance masters, the mannerists, and Italian metaphysical painters Carlo Carra and Giorgio de Chirico.
In 1929, Dali joined the Paris Surrealist Group, led by former Dadaist, Andre Breton. That year Dali met Gala Éluard when she visited Cadaqués in the summer with her husband, the French poet Paul Éluard. She soon became Dali’s lover, muse, business manager, and chief inspiration. When Dali seduced her, this lead to a break with his father and was banished from his home. Through Miró, Dali met Tristan Tzara. He exhibited in Zürich and had his first one-man show in Paris, at Goeman’s Gallery. Un Chien Andalou, for which Dali and Luis Buñuel wrote the scenario, was shown at the Ursulines Film Studio in Paris "amid much scandal and sensation." Dali contributed seven articles to L’Amic de les Arts, including "Review of Antiartistic Tendencies," a veritable defense of La Revue Surréaliste, in which Dali took a strong stand against all academicism.
In 1930, Vicomte de Noialles bought "The Old Age of William Tell." Energetically involved with the Surrealist group, he designed the frontpiece for the Second Surrealist Manifesto. He published in the magazine Le Surréalisme au Service de la Révolution a long poem-manifest, "L’Âne Pourri," in which he expounds his theory of the paranoiac-critical process of thought. He also wrote and illustrated La Femme Visible (published in Edition Surréalistes, Paris) and dedicated it to Gala. He bought a fisherman’s cottage at Port Lligat, and later spent a large portion of each year there with Gala. He collaborated with Luis Buñuel on the scenario of L’Âge d’Or, a film which caused a scandal when shown at Studio 28 in Paris. The League of Patriots and others rioted in protest against the film, destroying many surrealist works exhibited in the lobby. The film was finally banned.
Dali soon became a leader of the Surrealist Movement. In 1931, he wrote and published "Love and Memory" in Editions Surréalistes. He also exhibited his work at the Pierre Colle Gallery in Paris. In 1932, "The Persistence of Memory" was first exhibited in a surrealist retrospective at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, Dali's first exhibition is the States. That painting is still one of the best known surrealist works. In 1933, collectors and friends formed "The Zodiaque" Group, whose purpose was to subsidize the Catalan artist. Dali continued to collaborate with the magazines Le Surréalisme au Service de la Revolution and Minotaure. In the latter, he published his article on "edible beauty" and art nouveau architecture, which revived interest in the aesthetics of the turn of the century. His first surrealist works were shown in Spain at the Galerie Catalane in Barcelona. In 1934, "The Enigma of William Tell" offended the Surrealist group, and lead to arguments with André Breton.
Gala and Dali were married in a civil ceremony on January 30, 1934. Dali’s first one-man show in London was held at the Zwemmer Gallery. He produced forty-two etchings to illustrate Les Chants de Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont for Albert Skira. Dali and Gala made their first trip to New York, and his series of special illustrations of the city appeared in the American Weekly from February to July. His exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York was a great success. But, as war approached, the apolitical Dali clashed with the Surrealists and was expelled from the Surrealist movement during a "trial", but continued as a peripheral figure.
In 1935 Julien Levy published The Conquest of the Irrational in New York and Paris. This major essay expounded on Dali’s "paranoiac-critical" method, a "spontaneous method of irrational knowledge, based on the interpretive-critical association of delirious phenomena." Dali lectured at the Museum of Modern Art on "Surrealist Paintings and Paranoiac Images." The following year, Dali dressed in a diving suit, gave a lecture on the occasion of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London. The Spanish Civil War forced Dali to leave Spain. He signed a contract with the English collector Edward F.W. James, whose patronage subsidized Dali’s career through 1938. Dali appeared on the cover of Times magazine in December, on the occasion of the "Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism" exhibition at the New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He painted "Autumn Cannibalism" and "Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War." In 1936, during a prolonged visit to London, Dali created the magnificent painting "The Anthropomorphic Cabinet." In 1937 Dali visited Harpo Marx in Hollywood to write the scenario for Giraffes on Horseback Salad. He wrote "The Metamorphoses of Narcissus," a paranoiac poem illustrating his double-image painting of the same name. In three visits to Italy, he studied Palladio and was increasingly influenced by the Renaissance and baroque painters. Dali designed dresses and hats for Elsa Schiaparelli. Breton and the Surrealists condemned his comments on Hitler.
Dali was introduced to the ailing Sigmund Freud in 1938 by Stefan Zweig in London, and drew numerous portraits of him. He participated in the International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris, showing "Rainy Tax." Dali then drifted away from the Surrealist movement, asserting "L’Surréalisme—C’est moi!" By 1939 the breach with the Surrealists was final. André Breton anagramatically dubbed Dali "Avida Dollars." In New York, he accidentally crashed through Bonwit Teller’s window, while rearranging a surrealist window display. Dali published "Declaration of Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to His Own Madness" in defense of his "Dream of Venus" exhibit for the New York World’s Fair. Bacchanale, a ballet, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House with scenario, costumes, and sets done by Dali, and choreography by Léonide Massine. Dali returned to France. By 1940, Dali was moving into a new style which eventually became known as his "classic" period, demonstrating a preoccupation with science and religion.
Dali and Gala escaped from Arcachon, France, shortly before the Nazi invasion, taking the SS Excambion from Lisbon to the United States, paid by Picasso. He spent 1940-48 in the United States. These were very important years for the artist. In 1941 Dali exhibited at the Julien Levy gallery in New York, the Art Club of Chicago, and the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery in Los Angeles. His first retrospective exhibition was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in conjunction with a show of Miró. Dali’s ballet Labyrinth opened in New York. The Museum of Modern Art show traveled to Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago in 1941 and 1942. In 1942, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, a fictionalized autobiography, was published in New York by Dial Press. In 1943, Eleanor and A. Reynolds Morse (donors of the St. Petersburg Museum collection) purchased their first Dali painting, "Daddy Longlegs of the Evening—Hope!". Dali created the first series of jewels for the Duke de Verdura. Dali exhibited portraits of American personalities at the Knoedler Gallery in New York. The Morses attended this show and met Dali and Gala. Dali completed studies for three murals for the New York apartment of Helena Rubenstein.
In 1944, Dali designed costumes and sets for three ballets: Sentimental Colloquy, Mad Tristan, and El Café de Chinitas. His novel Hidden Faces was published by Dial Press. Dali was commissioned by Billy Rose to do seven paintings to illustrate the "seven lively arts" for the lobby of the Ziegfeld Theater. He created a second series of jewels for Carlos Alemany. In 1945, Dali News was published for his exhibition at the Bignou Gallery in New York. He illustrated The Maze by Maurice Sandoz and the dust jacket for an anthology on demonology entitled Speak of the Devil. He painted "Basket of Bread." In 1946, Dali worked with Walt Disney on a never completed animated film project called Destino. He designed dream sequences for Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Spellbound, and illustrated Macbeth & Don Quixote. In 1947, the Cleveland Museum of Art organized a Dali retrospective in which eleven paintings from the Morse Collection were exhibited. In 1948, he wrote, illustrated, and published Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, a pastiche of a Renaissance artist’s manual in the manner of Cennino Cennini, engagingly illustrated with mock diagrams. Dali returned to Spain and designed sets and costumes for Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the Eliseo Theater in Rome. His international reputation continued to grow, based as much on his showy lifestyle and flair for publicity as on his prodigious output of paintings, graphic wor
ks, book illustrations, and designs for jewelry, textiles, and stage sets.
Religion, history and science were increasingly to form the subject-matter of his works during the 1950s and 1960s, many of them of large format. These were the years in which he painted many of his best-known works, such as "Christ of St. John of the Cross", "Galatea of the Spheres", "Corpus Hypercubus", "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus" (The Dream of Christopher Columbus) and "The Sacrament of the Last Supper". In 1949, Dali painted "Leda Atomica" and his first large-sized canvas, "Madonna of Port Lligat," measuring 12 by 8 feet, for a new series of "classical and religious" artworks. In 1950, he exhibited "The Temptation of St. Anthony" at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. In 1951, Dali wrote Manifeste Mystique to explain his nuclear mysticism. He painted "Christ of St. John on the Cross." In 1952, Dali and Gala, accompanied by the Morses, traveled to Iowa, Missouri, Texas, and Florida, where Dali gave a series of lectures on nuclear mysticism in his art. He exhibits "Assumpta Corpuscularia Lapislazulina" at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. In 1953, Dali wrote a scenario for The Flesh Wheelbarrow at the Del Monte Lodge in California. The film was never made. He delivered a triumphant lecture on the phenomenological aspects of the paranoiac-critical method at the Paris’ Sarbonne. In 1954, Dali worked with Robert Descharnes on a still-unfinished film entitled The Prodigious Story of the Lacemaker and the Rhinoceros. He held exhibits in Rome, Venice, and Milan, where he showed, among other works, 102 watercolors illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy. He published Dali’s Moustache with photographer Philippe Halsman. In 1956, "The Sacrament of the Last Supper" was exhibited at the National Gallery in Washington, DC on loan from the Chester Dale Collection. A large retrospective exhibition opened at Knokke-le-Zoute in Belgium. Dali wrote the treatise Dali on Modern Art. In 1957, Dali was commissioned by the French publisher Joseph Foret to produce fifteen lithographs to illustrate Don Quixote. In 1958, Dali and Gala were married in a religious ceremony at la Capella de la Mare de Deu dels Angels in Girona, Spain. The New York Graphic Society published the first monograph on Dali’s art, written by Mr. A. Reynolds Morse. In May, Dali presented a fifteen-meter loaf of bread at a happening at the Théâtre de l’Etoile, Paris. In 1959, he finished painting "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus," the first in a series of monumental canvases depicting historical and Spanish myths. In Paris, Dali presented his ovocipède that he had invented.
In 1960, he exhibited "Ecumenical Council" at Carstairs Gallery in New York. In 1961, Dali wrote the story and designed the sets and costumes for Ballet de Gala, which premiered at the Teatro Fenice in Venice, with choreography by Maurice Béjart. Dali gave his first lecture at the École Polytechnique on the myth of Castor and Pollux. In 1962, Robert Descharnes published Dali de Gala. Dali exhibited "The Battle of Tetuan" beside a canvas on the same subject by Fortuny in the Palacio Tinell in Barcelona. In 1963, Dali painted "Portrait of My Dead Brother," which anticipated Pop Art. Knoedler Gallery in New York exhibited Dali’s numerous works. Dali published The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus, a manuscript in French that had been lost for 22 years. In 1964, Dali was awarded one of Spain’s highest decorations, the Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic. He publishes The Diary of a Genius, a sequel to his autobiography. An important retrospective show opened in the Seibu Museum in Tokyo. In 1965, the Gallery of Modern Art at Columbus Circle in New York held a major retrospective exhibition of 370 works, which included the entire Morse Collection. Dali painted "The Apotheosis of the Dollar" and published Open Letter to Salvador Dali. He produced a series of illustrations for a new edition of the Bible and created his first important sculpture, "Bust of Dante." In 1966, Dali designed the First Day Cover for the twentieth anniversary of the World Federation of United Nations Association. In 1967, he completed "Tuna Fishing" for presentation at the Hotel Meurice in Paris. Rizzoli published The Dali Bible. Jean-Christophe Averty made a film with Dali called A Soft Self-Portrait. In 1968, Dali published a pamphlet entitled "My Cultural Revolution," which was distributed to the rioting students at the Sorbonne in Paris, while Dali fled to Port Lligat.
In 1970, Dali finished "The Hallucinogenic Toreador" and an important European retrospective opened at the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. In 1971, the Morses open their Dali collection to the public in a wing of their office building. Dali went to Cleveland for the official opening on March 7. He designed an issue of Vogue. In 1972, Knoedler Gallery in New York exhibited Dali’s holograms. In 1973, "Hello Dali," a documentary, was filmed in Port Lligat by the British Broadcasting Company. In 1974, Dali opened the Teatro Museo Dali in Figueres, Spain. In 1975, the film made by Dali on tape, Impressions from Upper Mognolia (Homage to Raymond Roussel), was produced by German television. In 1976, he started working on stereoscopic installations. The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali was published in English. In 1978, he exhibited his first hyper-stereoscopic painting, "Dali Lifting the Skin of the Mediterranean Sea to Show Gala the Birth of Venus," at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Dali discovered René Thom’s work on mathematical catastrophe theory. In 1979, Dali was inducted into France’s prestigious Académie Française des Beaux-Arts. A large retrospective was held at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris.
In 1980, the Tate Gallery in London held a slightly smaller version of the massive Pompidou retrospective. In 1981, Dali’s "Art in Jewels" (the Catherwood and Cheatham collections) were sold to Japanese investors for $3.9 million. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, exhibiting works from the Morse Collection was inaugurated in 1982. Gala died on June 10, 1982 at the Púbol Castle. Spain’s King Juan Carlos conferred the title of Marquès de Dali de Púbol on Dali for the artist’s exceptional contribution to Spanish culture. From now on Dali lived at the castle at Púbol, which he had given to Gala. In 1983, he created the perfume "Dali" and had his first major Spanish exhibition "Four Hundred Works of Salvador Dali, 1914-1983" shown in Madrid and Barcelona. In May, Dali painted his last picture, "The Swallowtail." In 1984, the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation was established in Figueres.
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Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist artist, remained a mystery as a man and as an artist despite all that was written by and about him. A blend of reality and fantasy characterized both his personal life and his artwork.
"Every morning when I wake up I experience an exquisite joy—the joy of being Salvador Dali—and I ask myself in rapture, ‘What wonderful things this Salvador Dali is going to accomplish today?’" —Salvador Dali.
Browse our gallery to view our collection of four limited edition, hand-signed Salvador Dali lithographs from the "Alice in Wonderland" Suite. Each work of art bears the original signature, in pencil, of Dali and each has been remarqued by the artist. All signatures have been authenticated by the Dali Archives.
Images are copyrighted by their
respective copyright holders.
This piece is called "The Ecumenical Council" from 1960. After the immediate shock of the Hiroshima bombing wore off, Dali's interests in mysticism turned to a fascination with religion, specifically Christianity. He includes himself in the bottom left corner as if he is witnessing this meeting of heavenly bodies.
"Dali, why do you wear a mustache?"
"In order to pass unobserved."
Countess Karin Sassoli de Bianchi de Medici and her giant pink bearman. The bear costume was created by Salvador Dali for Elsa Schiaparelli.
This early autobiography, which takes Dali through his late thirties, is as startling and unpredictable as his art. On its first publication, the reviewer of books observed: "It is impossible not to admire this painter as writer ... (Dali) succeeds in doing exactly what he sets out to do ... communicates the snobbishness, self-adoration, comedy, seriousness, fanaticism, in short the concept of life and the total picture of himself he sets out to portray." Superbly illustrated with over eighty photographs of Dali and his works, and scores of Dali drawings and sketches.
"Lapis-lazuli Corpuscular Assumption" repeats several of the images seen in Raphaelesque Head Exploding (1951). The outline of the Pantheon can be seen, the top of which acts as a halo to Gala's head. Like the Madonna, Gala is exploding, her body delineated by the rhinoceros horns that swirl about the painting.
Above an altar is the figure of the crucified Christ. The model for Christ was a boy from Cadaquйs called Juan whom the Dalis were very close to, treating him like an adopted son. The boy's body forms a triangle, a shape repeated by Gala's arms and head above. Dali had a glass floor put in his studio so that he could look up or down on his models in order to recreate this perspective.
Dali saw this painting as an interpretation of the philosopher Nietzsche's idea of natural strength, although here we have Gala as a "superwoman", ascending to heaven through her own innate force. In a later explanation of the work, Dali wrote that Gala was rising to heaven with the aid of "anti-matter Angels". The painting can be interpreted as Gala's body either disintegrating or integrating.
In 1936, during a prolonged visit to London, Dali created the magnificent painting "The Anthropomorphic Cabinet." To the Surrealist Master himself the cabinet image was intrinsically connected to the psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud, whom he deeply admired.
In 1973, Salvador Dali undertook to recreate the androgynous image of the painting into a true sculptural expression, and a new stunning masterpiece was born.
Bronze I, 1973
Dali sublimated his life in his art of painting. Relying on great craftsmanship, acquired in all sorts of art experiments, he lifted surrealism, in an inimitable self-willed manner, to exceptional heights. He photographed, as it were, associatively what was enacted in his mind. Incited by, at the time, new psychological insights he tried to fix his subconscious with images, and to visualise his dreams in all their inscrutable symbolism. It was for this purpose that he developed his famous "paranoid-critical" method. To us, one dimensional mortal souls, only the paintings and other expressions remain as fascinating witnesses to a literally unbelievably intense an act With the greatest respect for the original works of art, the famous painting is brought to life by lifting images out of the flat surfaces and creating 3-D sculptures, as for example in Dali's 1943 Geopolitical Child Watches the Birth of the New Human.
The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, Salvador Dali, Haakon M. Chevalier, Dial Press, NY, 1942; Dover Publications; Reprint Edition (March 1, 1993)
Diary of a Genius, Salvador Dali, Prentice Hall; (January 1986); Creation Books; Reprint Edition (May 1, 1998)
Dali's Mustache, Salvador Dali, Philippe Halsman, Flammarion-Pere Castor, 1954; Reprint Edition (February 1, 1994)
"The Temptation of St. Anthony", 1946.
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belguique, Brussels
The painting and the sculpture proclaim: Dali's nuclear mysticism in spite of all the laws of gravity. In the painting, a naked Anthony holds up the cross imploringly in front of the rearing, panicked horse. On its breath-like thin legs, it defies all laws of gravity. The saint strives not to be seduced by the earthy temptations. Temptation appears to Saint Anthony successively in the form of a horse in the foreground representing strength, sometimes also the symbol of voluptuousness, and in the form of the elephant which follows it, carrying on its back the golden cup of lust in which a nude woman is standing precariously balanced on the fragile pedestal, a figure which emphasizes the erotic character of the composition. The other almost suspended elephants are carrying buildings on their backs; the first of these is an obelisk inspired by that of Bernini in Rome, the second and third are burdened with Venetian edifices in the style of Palladio. In the background another elephant carries a tall tower which is not without phallic overtones, and in the clouds one can glimpse a few fragments of Escorial, symbol of temporal and spiritual order. The elephant theme appears several times in Dali's works of this period: for example, in Atomica Melancholica of 1945 and Triumph of Dionysus of 1953.
By far the most popular of all Dali's religious works is without a doubt his "Christ of Saint John of the Cross." The painting was inspired by a drawing, preserved in the Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, Spain, and done by Saint John of the Cross himself after he had seen this vision of Christ during an ecstasy. The people beside the boat are derived from a picture by Le Nain and from a drawing by Velazquez for The Surrender of Breda.
At the bottom of his studies for the Christ, Dali wrote: "In the first place, in 1950, I had a 'cosmic dream' in which I saw this image in color and which in my dream represented the 'nucleus of the atom.' This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it 'the very unity of the universe,' the Christ! In the second place, when, thanks to the instructions of Father Bruno, a Carmelite, I saw the Christ drawn by Saint John of the Cross, I worked out geometrically a triangle and a circle, which 'aesthetically' summarized all my previous experiments, and I inscribed my Christ in this triangle."
This work was regarded as banal by an important art critic when it was first exhibited in London. Nevertheless, several years later, it was slashed by a fanatic while it was hanging in the Glasgow Museum, proof of its astonishing effect on people.
Dali relates that, when he was finishing the picture at the end of autumn in 1951, it was so cold in the house in Port Lligat that Gala abruptly decided to have central heating installed. He remembers the moments of terror through which he then lived, fearing for his canvas on which the paint was still wet, with all the dust stirred up by the workmen: "We took it from the studio to the bedroom so that I could continue to paint, covered with a white sheet which dare not touch the surface of the oil. I said that I didn't believe I could do my Christ again if any accident were to befall it. It was true ceremonial anguish. In ten days the central heating was installed and I was able to finish the picture in order to take it to London, where it was shown for the first time at the Lefevre Gallery."
When it was at the Biennial of Art in Madrid, along with other works of the painter, General Franco asked that two of the oils of the master of Figueras be brought to the palace of El Pardo: "Basket of Bread" and "Christ of Saint John of the Cross."
The sculpture is as pure as the painting and represents Christ without a cross, with his body supported by an enormous symbolic nail whose point is driven into a pyramid of stones from Golgotha, which must have been worn and polished by the feet of the pilgrims.
Christ of St. John of the Cross, 1951.
The Glasgow Art Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland
"The Sacrament of the Last Supper", 1955
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
This work is another excellent example of Dali's idea of Nuclear Mysticism, in which he has combined ideas of science and religion. As in several other Dali masterworks (namely The Ecumenical Council) we are unable to view the face of God here. The elements of the Catholic Eucharist, bread and wine, are present on the table, a direct reference back to Dali's Catalonian heritage. The wondrous landscape of Dali's homeland once again dominates the surrounding background, and the whole scene seems to be taking place inside some surreal and ethereal building.
Perhaps even more importantly, this work translates Dali's desire to become Classic in that he is adhering to the rules of Divine Proportion. The theory of the Golden Section, as forwarded by Euclid, created in Dali a whole new painting style, in which these classical artistic techniques were elevated to modern levels of mastery.
Christ of St. John of the Cross,
Bronze Sculpture, 1974
Dali's Last Picture: "Swallowtail", 1983
After Gala's death, Dali's health began to fail. It deteriorated further after he was burned in a fire in his home in Pubol in 1984. Afterward, he went into total seclusion in an apartment in the Torre Galatea, adjacent to his museum in Figueres. Robert Descharnes published a study of Dali. In 1985, Dali joined a campaign to make Barcelona the site of the 1992 Olympic Games. He gave reproduction rights of "The Cosmic Athlete" for use on a promotional poster. Dali denied rumors of being held captive in the Torre Galatea. Dali appeared on television for the first time in six years to announce his recent donation of works to the Teatro Museo Dali in Figueres. Madrid officials announced that Dali has agreed to design a plaza for the city, costing $1.5 million, which would include a huge dolmen.
In 1986, the Salvador Dali Museum in Florida exhibited the first public showing of Dali’s forty-eight sculptures donated to the Museum by Isidro Clot. A New York City Grand Jury indicted seven people for misrepresentation of reproductions as Dali "lithographs." During this same period, Dali received a pacemaker after suffering heart failure. Madrid unveiled the square designed by Dali, consisting of his sculpture "Homage to Newton." Weighing one ton, it is a salute to gravity. Facing it is a dolmen of granite propped up on three cement legs. Shelby Fine Arts Gallery owners in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were indicted on fourteen counts alleging fraud, criminal conspiracy, and criminal solicitation in regard to sale of Dali’s graphics. Dali allowed photographer Helmut Newton from Vanity Fair magazine to photograph him in a satin gown. He wore the Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic and displayed the tube in his nose, through which he has been fed for over four years due to a psychological problem with swallowing. In 1987, Dali grew extremely depressed. A Manhattan couple was convicted in the state's Supreme Court on charges of selling spurious Dali lithographs as "art investments." A Japanese group representing a Tokyo museum purchased "Lincoln in Dalívision" for $2.3 million. The work was loaned for two years to the Salvador Dali Museum in Florida. Dali’s former secretary, Captain Peter Moore, announced the donation of three hundred paintings to Spain. Shelby Fine Arts Gallery owners were convicted after pleading guilty in an art fraud case concerning Dali graphics. Dali's "Battle of Tetuan" brought $2.4 million at an auction; it was sold to Japanese investors. In 1988, Dali donated the painting "The Birth of a Goddess" to Jordi Pujol, President of the Catalan government. The first exhibition in the Soviet Union in Moscow was held at the Pushkin Museum of Art, featuring two hundred graphic works from the French collector and publisher Pierre Argillet.
Dali died of heart failure on January 23, 1989 in Figueres and ws buried in a crypt in the Teatro Museo, as he had willed. In his will he left his entire fortune and works to the Spanish state, with the works to be divided by Madrid and Figueres. Dali’s sister, Ana María, died in Cadaqués on May 17. Major retrospective of 350 Dali works were exhibited in Stuttgart, Zürich, and Humlebaek.
In 1990, an exhibition of over a hundred Dali works opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Dali exploiters William Mett and Marvin Wiseman of the Center Art Gallery in Honolulu were found guilty in a federal court for misrepresentation of Dali prints and art fraud. The world’s largest art-scam trial ran for five months before the defendants were found guilty of seventy-three of seventy-nine charges. In 1991, "The Dali Adventure," featuring recollections by A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, was released. In 1992, Mrs. Edwin Bergman donated collections of seventy-seven surrealist paintings to the Art Institute in Chicago, featuring three Dali works. The Olympic Games in Barcelona renewed interest in Dali’s "Catalonia." Meredith Etherington-Smith published a biography of Dali in London. Lee Catterall published The Great Dali Art Fraud, detailing the history of fraudulent Dali graphics market. In 1993, Dali’s 1951 painting "Christ of St. John on the Cross" was moved from the Glasgow Museum of Art to be the centerpiece in Glasgow’s newly opened St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. "Dali’s Dalís," an exhibition of works by Dali from his own collection, opened in Seville.