Salvador Dalí

Spanish (Figueres, Spain, 1904 - 1989, Figueres, Spain)

Salvador Dalí is as memorable for his eccentric, theatrical persona as for his innovative paintings.

A native of Catalonia, in the late 1920s Dalí joined the Parisian circle of Surrealist writers and artists, but was later expelled for political differences. He did, however, share their interest in artistically mining the unconscious, as theorized by Freudian psychoanalysis.

Dalí's meticulously crafted canvases sought to transcribe dreams and half-remembered childhood traumas. Frank but ambiguous sexual imagery is placed in the dusty Spanish landscape and often juxtaposed with figures from Old Master paintings and the mass media.

After a stint in the U.S., Dalí returned to Spain and lived there from 1949 until his death. His later works include experiments in film, holograms, and commercial graphic design, as well as devout but nontraditional Catholic imagery.


From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

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