Salvador Dali: The Master Of Surreal Art

The Birth Of A Spanish Surrealist:

Salvador Dali was born in May 11 of 1904 in the humble town of Figueres, Spain. He shared the same first name with his older brother who had died 9 months earlier before he was born and had believed he was his brother’s reincarnation. Dali discovered his passion for art at a young age. He attended drawing school during the early years of his childhood and he also loved playing football like any other Spanish boy. Though he had interest in art, he was not serious in schooling and often daydreams during class. He was often ridiculed because of his eccentric fashion sense and an unusually long hair.

In 1922, he studied at the Academia de San Fernando and it was in this time that he developed a strong influence in many artistic styles such as Cubism and Metaphysics, to name a few. Later on, he drew controversy for criticizing most of his teachers and had allegedly started a riot in school and was eventually suspended and briefly imprisoned. He went back to the academy in 1926, but was expelled shortly after the examination believing that the school’s faculty were incompetent to examine him.

Dali continued his passion of Surrealism art. In 1929, he went to Paris and had a chance to meet with Pablo Picasso and some influential artist of that time. It is in this period that Dali focused on 3 artistic themes (Cubism, Impressionism, and Futurism) and these became evident on most of his paintings and collages. He did a lot of art pieces, but they were mostly criticized as having double meanings such as sexual symbolism and ideographic imagery. Though he was not favored by many, these criticisms only fuelled him to go on with his passion.

After some time, Salvador Dali got a chance to share his mastery of surrealism on the stage and into the silver screen. Some of his notable artworks are included in the “Mariana Pineda” play of 1927 and in the “Bacchanale” ballet of 1939; He was also able to grace some classic movies such as “Spellbound” by Alfred Hitchcock (his paintings were used in the ‘dream sequence’ of the movie) and in Walt Disney’s short film “Destino”.

During the next succeeding years, Dali painted on big canvasses depicting themes of history, science, and religion. He called this period as “Nuclear Mysticism”. He was also focused into creating the Dali Teatro Museo which he had successfully established, but also became the reason for his financial downfall.

In the 1980’s, Salvador Dali was forced to retire from this painting because of a disease which caused his hands to tremble and weaken. He then suffered deep depression after his wife, Gala died on June 10, 1982. The great Salvador died on January 23, 1989 lying on a hospital bed due to heart failure. He was then buried into the theater-museum’s crypt, and then his life and works became known to the world.

Dali’s Contribution To Art:

Salvador Dali is known to be a Surrealist and depicting this theme through his paintings and other art works. Most of his works show a sort of dream sequence which he often draws hallucinatory characters. His major contribution to the Surrealist movement is called the “Paranoiac-Critical Method” which is a form of mental exercise of accessing the subconscious parts of the mind to have an artistic inspiration. He used this method to realize the dreams and imagination ha have in his mind, changing the real world the way he wanted and not necessarily what it was.


Salvador Dali was once known to be a peculiar man often doing eccentric paintings. Though he was once mocked and criticized by his artistic methods, he still left an important contribution to the Surrealist movement and will continue to be an inspiration to the many artists of today and tomorrow.

About Style – Picasso Versus Dali

Style is a concept that is used in many areas. In arts for example it denominates a certain characteristic or typical way of … painting. In fashion it is used to describe a certain tendency to dress. And style is also used in architecture to express more or less the same — way — in which a building is made — classic, modern, gothic, etc. And even organizations have their style in organizing activities.

This is less visible, but equally significant, because style gives (form to) identity and authenticity.

Awareness of differences in style in other areas – like painting – could help to understand the differences and importance of style in organizations. For example the difference in style between the two Spanish painters: Pablo Picasso (from Malaga) and Salvador Dali (from Catalonia).

Both have had their own style, which we can not easily express with words, but they are prominent when looking at the painting of each of the artists. Style and arts (in painting) can mean to different things: the own style of the painter and the style of a movement that dominates a certain period.

Dali for example has always been predominantly associated with the surrealist movement in arts. Picasso on the other hand has been associated with cubism but also with many other styles.

In fact the main differences — in style between the two masters — is perhaps that Picasso has altered his style and preferences to express himself, whereas Dali has been loyal to mostly one style; surrealism.

Picasso has always been valued more on the market than “Dali” and probably because of the same reason. Where the market is capricious and not only focused on one style, it will most value the artist that is able to switch from one style to another. One point in time the market turned its back to surrealism as being out of date. This happened with al style periods like in philosophy where a period like existentialism is “overdue” at one moment in time. The hype or trend is over and if you are still committed to this style the market will ignore you.

It is said the Picasso was always an outsider, never committed to one style, always looking for new way to express himself. Dali had found his “way” and not willing nor eager to open up for new developments and innovations.

Style is even present on a personal or psychological level. Myers and Briggs have elaborated this topic with a set of personal preferences; in this case the Judging versus the Perceiving preferences.

“This fourth preference pair describes how you like to live your outer life–what are the behaviors others tend to see? Do you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)? (

It seems that Picasso would be more Perceiving (P) where Dali would favor more a Judging lifestyle (J).

Style is peculiar way in which things are done – made, designed, etc. It is omnipresent, also in business, but less visible than the style of a painting. But give it some attention. Focus on the way you organize your life or business.

© 2006 Hans Bool