Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí was born in the small town of Figueres in Catalunya, Spain in 1904. He was said to have been a difficult child, refusing to conform to family or community customs. Early on, he received private art lessons in Figueres. Later he attended the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. There he became a member of an avant-garde circle of students, which included Luis Buñuel and Federico Garcia Lorca. Dalí felt that he did not require the type of education the school had to offer and never took the final examinations. He was consequently expelled and later reinstated, much to his indifference.
He moved into a fisherman’s shack in the village of Port Lligat on the coast, not far from the French border. Soon after, he met Dlena Diakonova, better known as Gala, a Russian emigree living in Paris. She took charge of virtually every aspect of Dalí’s life, financial, artistic and sexual. She would later become his wife.
In 1925, he had his first one- man show in Barcelona and three years later he made his first trip to Paris, where he was introduced to the Surrealists by Spanish painter, Joan Miró. Throughout the 1930s, Dalís works were included in Surrealist group shows in the United States and Europe. At the onset of World War II, Dalí and Gala took refuge in the United States, returning to Spain in 1955.
In the 1950s and 60s, in a return to Catholicism, Dalì produced a series of classically influenced, religious and historical pieces, which sold well, but did not garner much critical acclaim. In 1974, he opened the Teatro Museo Dalí in Figueras and retrospectives followed in the late 1970s in Paris and London.
During the final years of his life, Dalí lived in seclusion, receiving few visitors, among them the King and Queen of Spain. He died in 1989 in Figueres.