Salvador Dali was an artist most famous for his surrealist paintings. Noted as much for his eccentric behavior and dress as for his artwork, Dali was born in Spain in 1904 and began studying art before he was a teenager. Though famous for his dreamlike images, Dali's life was not limited to canvas, as he often created works in different media.
As a young man, Dali's father pushed his son to enroll in the Academia de San Fernando, or San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, in Madrid in hopes of obtaining a degree in drawing. At the prestigious school, Dali was often at odds with the faculty and openly criticized the staff for not having enough experience to direct his studies. Eventually, Dali was suspended for his comments.
Dali was close with writer Federico Garcia Lorca, and the two collaborated on theatrical work that Garcia Lorca directed. Dali worked as the set and costume designer on "Mariana Pineda," a historical play, as well as on the production of "Bacchanale," a ballet based on Richard Wagner's opera "Tannhauser" and the Greek myth "Leda and the Swan." For "Bacchanale," Dali not only designed the set but also wrote the libretto. After this, Dali worked on two additional stage productions as the set designer: "Labyrinth" and "The Three-Cornered Hat."
Dali was widely known as a great admirer of film. As a result, he worked with many famous directors. Dali collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock for the film "Spellbound." Roy Disney also worked with the artist on the cartoon piece "Destino." Also, Dali worked on two films with Luis Bunuel, one of which, "Un Chien Andalou," has him credited as the co-creator.
Dali is still famous, well after his death, for being a flamboyant sort. But he used this to his advantage in the area of fashion. Elsa Schiaparelli, an Italian fashion designer, collaborated with Dali to create original designs. Schiaparelli was inspired by the surrealist, and regular clients included American actress Mae West, whom Dali adored and made the subject of his work on more than one occasion. One such piece is the "Mae West Lips Sofa," which can be seen at the Espace Dali museum in Paris.
Dali is known to most as a surrealist painter. It should come as no surprise that he was part of one of the most avant-garde movements of his day, the surrealist movement. The movement largely functioned as an apparatus that criticized the materialistic and conventional beliefs of the day. It was formed from a cultural movement known as Dadaism, which was a reaction against popular traditions and war, specifically World War I. As a result, the surrealist movement was politically vocal as well, and Dali, who was largely apolitical, eventually found himself at odds with leaders of the movement, later being expelled.