Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989)

A photo of Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali
1904 - 1989
May 11, 1904
Figueres, Spain
January 23, 1989
Salvador Dali was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres Spain, and died at age 84 years old on January 23, 1989. Family, friend, or fan, this family history biography is for you to remember Salvador Dali .
Updated: August 11, 2022
Biography ID: 93166502

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About Salvador


I walked into the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan and there was Salvador Dali. (In the 1960's) I was very young and cute and he was happy to be recognized and gave me his autograph which I still have. I have many Salvador Dali books of his art. When my friend Huntington Hartford opened up his news gallery on Columbus Circle, he included some Salvador Dalis too.
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Salvador Dali
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May 11, 1904
Figueres Spain
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ARTIST- PAINTER-SURREALIST Dali's international career began in 1928, when he went to Paris and was made welcome by Breton and the other members of the Surrealist group. The group at that time was in need of a recruit who could explore the labyrinth of the unconscious and would not be deterred by Breton's dictatorial ways. Dali went back to Spain and painted the pictures that were to make him famous. The best of these are as impressive today as they ever were. Dali had a way of overturning reality that was not merely whimsical. When he did strange things with the human body, they were things that play upon people's most private fears of illness and incapacity. When he did strange things with objects, they were things that made those who saw them feel that the world as they knew it had suddenly vanished. The observer was adrift in nightmare, but the terms of that nightmare corresponded to disquiets that most people prefer not to admit to. The unconscious preyed on the conscious in these early paintings of Dali's, as a tiger might play with a fat white rabbit. So it was not surprising that Dali returned to Paris as the anointed favorite of Breton and the natural successor of those earlier favorites who, like Ernst and Miro, had proved too independent for the inner councils of the Surrealist movement. His first exhibition in Paris (at the Galerie Goemans in 1929) was as successful as anyone could have wished. Unlike his predecessors in the Surrealist group, Dali produced mirrorlike images that at first sight conformed exactly to the conventions of traditional oil painting. There was nothing he could not do in the way of exactitude: When the occasion called for a representation of a landscape, a seascape, a skyscape, a beautiful woman, a loaf of bread or an expensive watch, he did it to perfection in a style that was all reassurance. Only after a closer look did it become clear that the watch had gone soft like overripe Camembert, that very peculiar things were happening to the beautiful woman, and that it would be a mistake to put too much trust in the lyrical perfection of the land and the sea and the sky. Realism for the Unreal World When Dali hallucinated in the late 1920's, the whole world hallucinated with him, not least the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where James Thrall Soby was later to say that Dali had portrayed ''the unreal world with such extreme realism that its truth and validity could no longer be questioned.'' Americans saw in Dali both a winner and a doer. Where the other Surrealists remained essentially private people, Dali was a born performer, a man who needed an audience and responded to it. He found that audience in America, and for many years he kept it impressed and amused.

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January 23, 1989
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Salvador Dali, Pioneer Surrealist, Dies at 84 By John Russell Jan. 24, 1989 Salvador Dali, pioneer of European Surrealism and for more than half a century one of the best-known and most bitterly contested figures in the international art world, died yesterday at Figueras Hospital in Figueras, Spain. He was 84 years old. The artist had been hospitalized for treatment of heart problems three times since late November and had used a wheelchair since suffering burns in a fire in his home in 1984. Dali will have a permanent place in the history of art. When still in his 20's, and in competition with some of the most gifted artists of the day, he made an inventive and enduring contribution to European Surrealism. Max Ernst and Joan Miro - to name only two - were at the top of their form at the end of the 1920's. But it was Salvador Dali, with his meticulous and persuasive visions of a world turned inside out, who brought home to the public at large the full potential of Surrealism. More than anyone else, he made his audience believe that nonsense could make the best sense (and the most memorable sense, too). Master of the Outrageous As he grew older, Dali became known to an even larger public as an inveterate irritant, a tease who never gave up teasing and a prankster who made headlines for decades. He was a master of what was once called ''the aristocratic pleasure of displeasing,'' and it was a pleasure of which he did not tire. With Luis Bunuel, he produced two Surrealist films, ''Un Chien Andalou'' (1929) and ''L'Age d'Or'' (1931), which will live in the history of outrage. But it was not in Dali's nature to play Gilbert to someone else's Sullivan, and in general he liked to work on his own. So successfully did he do so that by the end of his life there was hardly a department of design he had not strayed into, or a lucrative use for his name that he had not explored. (This latter proclivity caused Andre Breton, the self-appointed leader of the Surrealist movement, to rearrange the letters of Salvador Dali to spell Avida Dollars.) Despite his commercial activity, Dali never stopped painting and drawing, and in 1980 the Pompidou Center in Paris mounted a retrospective that included 168 paintings, 219 drawings, 38 objects, some 2,000 documents and a specially built ''Dali environment.'' Dali also had the joy in his last years of seeing a Dali Museum opened in Figueras, in northern Spain, just a few miles from his home in the little seacoast village of Port Lligat. Salvador Dali was born in Figueras on May 11, 1904, the son of Salvador Dali, a lawyer, and his wife, Felipa Dome Domenech. He showed a precocious gift for art, both in Figueras and at the National School of Fine Arts in Madrid, where he began his studies in 1921. He impressed immediately as one of nature's winners: a student who could turn his hand to anything and bring it off. But he also impressed as a troublemaker. In 1924 he was suspended for a year on suspicion of inciting the students to revolution, and in May of that year he served brief sentences in jail in Figueras and Gerona for antigovernment activities. Welcomed back to school in Madrid in 1925, he was expelled for good a year later after refusing to take an examination in the history of art. Meanwhile, his lifelong facility allowed him to paint and draw in a wide variety of styles, both ancient and modern. He was a dreamer, but he dreamed for a particular reason. He wanted, in his own words, to systematize confusion and to discredit the world of everyday reality. He did this in his paintings, but also in life. Asked to lecture, he turned up in a diving bell and insisted on speaking from inside it. Asked to contribute a three-dimensional object to an exhibition, he sent along a life-size taxicab inside which rain fell throughout the duration of the show. He specialized in the poetics of disquiet, and until well into the 1930's he produced idea after idea that captured the popular imagination. He had his first New York show at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1933, and from 1934 on he was a familiar figure in this country. He talked, he wrote, he perfected his public appearances, and he had glamour of a kind that now has to be manufactured. In his case it was an amalgam of mischief, high spirits, idiosyncratic looks and an adman's instinct for professional advantage. With his popping eyes, his upturned and perfectly waxed mustache, his sober but perfectionist taste in dress and his large collection of canes, he was an unmistakable figure. He went on painting pictures that pressed hard on the nerve of their time. He was very good on sexual anxiety, for instance. He was very good on the idea that civilization might suddenly go to rot. And he was very good indeed on the idea that war - civil war, above all - was the ultimate pestilence and the irremediable crime against humanity. It was possible to argue, as George Orwell argued in 1942, that Dali's paintings ''are diseased and disgusting, and any investigation ought to start out from that fact.'' In August 1940, Dali moved to the United States, where he put his manifold gifts to every conceivable advantage. He turned up on Broadway, in Hollywood, in store after store on Fifth Avenue and elsewhere. He designed for opera and dance. But whereas in the 30's he had had both an intuitive awareness of the way the world was going and the wit to say something memorable about it, in later life Dali was the prisoner of Dali. He did not think so. Nor did the large public who followed his activity closely. He gave interviews on every possible occasion, and no audience was too silly or too small. He was never at a loss for something startling to say, and quite often there was just enough truth in what he said to make it quotable. ''We Surrealists are not artists,'' he once said. ''Nor are we really scientists. We are caviar, and caviar is the extravagance and the very intelligence of taste.'' And again: ''The main idea of my collection,'' he said when he went into fashion designing, ''is to do away with breasts. Breasts are only in the way, no matter what the situation. My solution will be to make women look like angels. From now on, breasts will be worn in the back and will be collapsible. With the aid of a helium tank, they will rise when we wish them to do so.'' When asked for his opinions on art, Dali never failed to say something outrageous. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to make mock of current orthodoxies. All his life he remained the man who once said: ''At 7, I wanted to be Napoleon. My ambition has been growing steadily ever since.'' Dali was married in 1935 to the former Elena Diaranoff, universally known as Gala. She had previously been married to the French poet Paul Eluard and had also had an association with Max Ernst. There were no children of the marriage, which was one to which Dali referred continually, both in his work and in conversation, as an ideal union. After her death in June 1982 at the age of 88, Dali spent much of his time in a remote castle in Pubol, in Catalonia, that he had given her some years earlier. In his prime, Dali was not only an artist of intermittent substance but also a man whose wit, style, panache and readiness to take on all comers in conversation added to the gaiety of more than one capital city. To the day he died he was - as he would have wished to be - a subject of controversy, though in recent years the controversy had more to do with the activities of his associates than with creative powers that had subsided long ago.

Average Age & Life Expectancy

Salvador Dali lived 14 years longer than the average Dali family member when he died at the age of 84.
The average age of a Dali family member is 70.

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Gracia Lionardi commented on Sep 03, 2019
His paintings always leave me in awe!

1904 - 1989 World Events

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In 1904, in the year that Salvador Dali was born, the United States acquired the Panama Canal Zone. Now an unincorporated territory of the U.S., the Canal Zone had been previously held by the French, who were constructing a canal. The U.S. took over the construction of the Panama Canal and it was finally finished in 1914, when it was opened to commercial shipping. The United States held the Canal Zone until 1979.

In 1917, at the age of only 13 years old, Salvador was alive when the U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in January. While they are U.S. citizens, Virgin Islanders are ineligible to vote for the President of the United States.

In 1941, Salvador was 37 years old when on June 25th, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, prohibiting racial discrimination in the defense industry. EO 8802 was the first federal action to prohibit employment discrimination - without prejudice as to "race, creed, color, or national origin" - in the U.S. Civil Rights groups had planned a march on Washington D.C. to protest for equal rights but with the signing of the Order, they canceled the March.

In 1973, when he was 69 years old, in October, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned - President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford for Vice President. Nixon's tax returns came under investigation. Nixon offered the recently discovered Oval Office tapes be heard by one person and summarized - his offer was rejected by the Special Prosecutor. Nixon ordered the Attorney General, then the assistant Attorney General, to fire the Special Prosecutor. Both refused and were fired. The Solicitor General became the acting Attorney General and fired the Special Prosecutor (the Saturday Night Massacre). Nixon releases some of the tapes, under extreme pressure because of the firings.

In 1989, in the year of Salvador Dali 's passing, on January 20th, George Herbert Walker Bush became the 41st President of the United States. Previously Ronald Regan's Vice President, he ran against Michael Dukakis and won the popular vote by 53.4% to 45.6%.

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