When asked to define the Surrealist movement, it is a travesty to not mention the great Salvador Dalí. Master of self-promotion, he is one of the most recognizable artists in the world. His astounding ability to craft bizarre images while hanging onto the ideals of Surrealism is astounding, inspiring thousands. To attempt to understand the brilliant artist, we must first examine his roots.
Born on May 11, 1904, in the town of Figueres, young Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was born into tragedy, raised under the idea that he was “…the reincarnation of [his] dead brother,” which he later considered to be the truth (one may theorize the impact of this facet of his psyche on his work.) His father was a middle-class lawyer, whose line of work gave him a strong sense of strict discipline. He wouldn't tolerate his son's outbursts or eccentricities, and punished him severely. Their relationship deteriorated when Dalí was still young, exacerbated by competition between he and his father for Felipa's affection. His father’s strictness was countered by his mother’s tender upbringing, who constantly praised his artwork. Dalí also had a sister, Ana María, who was three years younger. She later wrote a book on her brother, titled Dalí As Seen By His Sister.
In his early years, Dalí showed great potential. At twelve, he attended a drawing school where his raw talent was honed into the makings of a truly revolutionary artist. There, he discovered modern painting with the family of Ramon Pichot, a local artist who made regular trips to Paris. As his skills developed, his parents took pride in their prodigy of a son, organizing an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their family home in 1917.
In February 1921, Dalí’s mother died of breast cancer. The artist was floored, stating that his mother’s death was “the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshipped her... I could not resign myself to the...