Seeing Through Salvador Dalí’s Kaleidoscopic Eyes


Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí I Domènech was the son of Salvador Dalí Cusí and Felipa Domènech Ferrés. He was born on the lackadaisical day of May 11, 1904. Dalí later claimed to have been named after an older brother that had died at the age of twenty-two months, but in actuality he was dubbed after his father and grandfather. Felipe is the male equivalent of his mother’s name while Jacinto came from his uncle.
The family lived in a small, rural town called Figueres in Spain. It was sixteen miles south of the Spanish-French border, being fed by the Tech and Ter rivers. Dalí’s photographic memory consumed this scenery for later use in many of his paintings.
He was horrifically indifferent towards his education at the Christian Brothers’ Immaculate Conception primary school which likely gave him ample time to expand his imagination. Perhaps the only knowledge he acquired while being taught there was the French language. This was the sole language spoken at the school, and he was forced to adapt to the communication.
The first flame of creativity was sparked by Siegfrid Burmann, who gave Dalí his first set of oils and pallete. He undoubtedly employed these materials in one of his first sophisticated paintings, View of Cadaqués with Shadow of Mount Pani of 1917.
His family noticed his artistic talent early on, and supplemented his education by allowing him to spend summer holidays with the creative family of Ramón Pichot just outside of Figueres. Pichot was a well-known artist, who maintained friendships with the likes of Pablo Picasso. All his children were musically inclined and excelled in scholarly education. This family inspired Dalí to try his hand at any type of creative expression.
Dalí’s proud father exhibited his son’s drawings at the family home in Figueres. The attention prompted him to write stories and journal entries. He wrote two novels, Summer Evenings and The Tower of Babel, both of which remained unpublished.
At the age of fifteen, he foreshadowed his life, stating, "I’ll be a genius, and the world will admire me." This comment referred more to ambition than to conceit, which was a popular comment among Dalí’s critics.
His artistic purpose was furthermore empowered when Dalí was accepted as a student at the Academy of San Fernando, a famous art school in Madrid, where he stayed until 1922. He developed an infatuation with the theories of Sigmund Freud and studied his ideologies almost as a religion.
In February 6, 1921, Dalí’s mother died of cancer. Soon after, his father married Catalina Domènech Ferrés, the sister of his first wife. Dalí despised his father’s actions and denounced the marriage. He always referred to his stepmother as his aunt.
Most of Dalí’s personally generated works had symbolic links to familial ties, fetishes, and the local environment. Dalí used Freudian terms such as "wish fulfillment," "dream symbolism," "paranoia," and "delirium" to describe his line of thought while creating his paintings.
At the age of 21, Dalí had his first solo exhibition at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona in 1925. Picasso visited the exhibition and publicly praised Dalí’s ability.
Dalí’s self-imposed goal in life was to go against previous traditional art and also to silence his critics with ambidextrous displays of superfluous skill. He accomplished this by producing two paintings in the same year, each located on opposite poles of the artistic spectrum. Femme Couchée was a painting wildly influenced by Cubism, while the famous Basket of Bread was a meticulously and accurately painted still life.
Above all, Dalí was known as a Surrealist. In simple terms, Surrealism was created by unshackling thought, bringing into focus both the phenomena of the real world and the fantasies of the individual psyche. Most Surrealists, such as Salvador Dalí, were greatly influenced by the works of Sigmund Freud and his radical views of life.
In 1929, Dalí met his future wife, Gala Eluard. She quickly became his partner, mentor, guide, and business manager all in one. He painted several portraits of her, proudly displaying his affection through his work.
After marrying Gala in 1934, Dalí visited America for the first time. He held two solo art exhibitions and as a result was featured in the Hall of