Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquis of Púbol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) was a Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres.
Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of mediums.
Dalí attributed his “love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes”to a self-styled “Arab lineage,” claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.
Widely considered to be greatly imaginative, Dalí had an affinity for partaking in unusual behavior to draw attention to himself. This sometimes irked those who loved his art as much as it annoyed his critics, since his eccentric manner sometimes drew more public attention than his artwork.
Dalí, a colorful and imposing presence in his ever-present long cape, walking stick, haughty expression, and upturned waxed mustache, was famous for having said that “every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí.” The entertainer Cher and her husband Sonny Bono, when young, came to a party at Dalí’s expensive residence in New York’s Plaza Hotel and were startled when Cher sat down on an oddly shaped sexual vibrator left in an easy chair.
When interviewed by Mike Wallace on his 60 Minutes television show, Dalí kept referring to himself in the third person, and told the startled Mr. Wallace matter-of-factly that “Dalí is immortal and will not die.” During another television appearance, on the Tonight Show, Dalí carried with him a leather rhinoceros and refused to sit upon anything else.
One of Dalí’s most unorthodox artistic creations may have been an entire person. At a French nightclub in 1965, Dalí met Amanda Lear, a fashion model then known as Peki D’Oslo.
Lear became his protégé and muse, writing about their affair in the authorized biography My Life With Dalí (1986). Transfixed by the mannish, larger-than-life Lear, Dalí masterminded her successful transition from modeling to the music world, advising her on self-presentation and helping spin mysterious stories about her origin as she took the disco-art scene by storm. According to Lear, she and Dalí were united in a “spiritual marriage” on a deserted mountaintop. Referred to as Dalí’s “Frankenstein,” some believe Lear’s name is a pun on the French “L’Amant Dalí,” or Lover of Dalí. Lear took the place of an earlier muse, Ultra Violet (Isabelle Collin Dufresne), who had left Dalí’s side to join The Factory of Andy Warhol.
Late in his career, Dalí did not confine himself to painting, but experimented with many unusual or novel media and processes: he made bulletist works and was among the first artists to employ holography in an artistic manner. Several of his works incorporate optical illusions. In his later years, young artists such as Andy Warhol proclaimed Dalí an important influence on pop art.