Salvador Dalí (1904–89) was a Spanish painter. He was one of the best-known and most flamboyant surrealist artists. Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s writings on dreams and the unconscious, Dali portrayed fantastic dream images and bizarre moods with almost photographic realism alongside settings of arid Catalan landscapes, as in “The Persistence of Memory” (1931.)
Born near Barcelona, Spain, Dali was a gifted child; he produced highly sophisticated drawings at an early age. He steadily evolved his artistic style from a mishmash of influences—most notably the Italian metaphysical painters Chirico and Carlo Carrà, and Freud’s writings on dream images and their erotic implications. Dali rapidly became an accomplished constituent of the surrealists in Paris.
Despite their early endorsement, the surrealists renounced Dali in the late 1930s, because of his right-wing political views and his ostentatious view of himself. Dali spent eight years in America, returned to Europe in 1948, and continued to create dramatic fantasy paintings, many on Catholic themes.
Dali was also a prolific writer—in addition to producing the novel Hidden Faces (1944,) he explained his artistic aspirations in such autobiographies as The Conquest of the Irrational (1935) and The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942.)