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|Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domènech, Marquis of Pubol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), was a Spanish surrealist painter. Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking, bizarre, and beautiful 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. Salvador Dalí's artistic repertoire also included film, sculpture, and photography. He collaborated with Walt Disney on the Academy Award-nominated short cartoon Destino, which was released posthumously in 2003.|
Born in Catalonia, Spain, Dalí insisted on his "Arab lineage", claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors who invaded Spain in the year 711, and attributed to these origins, "my love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes."
Widely considered to be greatly imaginative, Dalí had an affinity for doing unusual things 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. The purposefully sought notoriety led to broad public recognition and many purchases of his works by people from all walks of life.
Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark soft watches that first appear in The Persistence of Memory suggest Einstein's theory that time is relative and not fixed. The idea for clocks functioning symbolically in this way came to Dalí when he was staring at a runny piece of Camembert cheese during a hot day in August. The elephant is also a recurring image in Dalí's works, appearing first in his 1944 work Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening. The elephants, inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture base in Rome of an elephant to carry an ancient obelisk, are portrayed "with long, multi-jointed, almost invisible legs of desire" along with obelisks on their backs. Coupled with the image of their brittle legs, these encumbrances, noted for their phallic overtones, create a sense of phantom reality. "The elephant is a distortion in space," one analysis explains, "its spindly legs contrasting the idea of weightlessness with structure."...I am painting pictures which make me die for joy, I am creating with an absolute naturalness, without the slightest aesthetic concern, I am making things that inspire me with a profound emotion and I am trying to paint them honestly. —Salvador Dalí, in Dawn Ades, Dalí and Surrealism.
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