Salvador Dali, the Extraordinary Life of

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The Extraordinary Life of Salvador Dali

Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech was born on May 11, 1904, in the small town of Figueres, Spain, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, only sixteen miles from the French border in the principality of Catalonia. The son of a notary, he spent his childhood in Figueres and at the family's summer home in the coastal fishing village of Cadaques. His parents built his first studio in Cadaques and for most of his adult life he lived in a villa in nearby Port Lligat.

The young Dali attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Early recognition of Dali's talent came with his first one-man show, held in Barcelona in 1925. He became internationally known when three of his paintings, including the Basket of Bread (now in the Salvador Dali Museum Collection) were shown in the third annual Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928.

The following year Dali went to Paris where he also held a one-man show. He also joined the Paris Surrealist Group. That same year Dali met Gala Eluard when she visited him in Cadaques with her husband, the French poet Paul Eluard. She became Dali's lover, muse, business manager, and chief inspiration. In 1934 Dali and Gala were married in a civil ceremony and made their first trip to America.

Dali emerged as a leader of the Surrealist movement and his painting, Persistence of Memory (1931) is still one of the best known surrealist works. But, as war approached, the apolitical Dali clashed with the Surrealists and he was expelled during a trial conducted by the group in 1934. Although he did exhibit works in international surrealist exhibitions throughout the decade, asserting that: "le Surrealisme c'est moi," by 1940 he moved into a...