Salvador Dalí, the genius that inspired Fig Man

“A true painter is one who can paint extraordinary scenes in the middle of an empty desert. A true painter is one who can patiently paint a pear in the midst of the tumults of history.” Salvador Dalí.

A few days ago we introduced you the creator of our new scent Fig-Man, and today, we want to dedicate a few lines to homage Salvador Dalí; the artist who inspired our perfumer during the creation process of this signature perfume, with his wondrous illustration “Homme Figuier”.

Dalí is without doubt one of the most representative figures of the Surrealist movement. Born in 1904 in Figueres, his father, also called Salvador, was a lawyer and notary, an anti-clerical atheist and Catalan federalist, whose strict disciplinary approach was tempered by his wife, Felipa. She was the one who encouraged her son’s artistic endeavors.

As a child Dalí was taken to his older brother’s grave, who passed before Salvador was born, and his parents made him believe that he was his brother’s reincarnation. This idea would be reflected on some of the artist’s works.

Dalí attended drawing school. In 1916, he also discovered modern painting on a summer vacation trip to Cadaqués with the family of a local artist called Ramon Pichot. The year after, Dalí’s father organized an exhibition of his charcoal drawings in their family home. At the age of 14 he had his first public exhibition at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres.

His mother’s death, in 1921, also marked a turning point in Dali’s personality.

It was a year after this tragic success that Salvador moved to Madrid to study at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. During this period, he became close friends with Pepín Bello, Luis Buñuel, and Federico García Lorca, among others. The friendship with Lorca had a strong element of mutual passion, but Dalí rejected the poet’s sexual advances.

He took part in the First Exhibition of the Iberian Artists Society in Madrid in 1925, while at Galeries Dalmau (Barcelona) were presenting his first individual exhibition. This was his period of rejecting the vanguard and questing for a pictorial tradition, essentially an Italian one. Over this academic year, he decided not return to the Academia de San Fernando and spent the summer in Cadaqués with Federico García Lorca.

It was in 1926 when Dalí, in the company of his aunt and his sister, made his very first trip to Paris, where he met another major artist, Pablo Picasso. He was expelled for good from the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Madrid for qualifying the Tribunal that was supposed to examine him incompetent, so, once more he moved back to Figueres and devoted himself intensely to painting. It was in this period when his works started to reveal the first clear influences of surrealism.

Two years later, along with Lluís Montanyà and Sebastià Gasch he published the Yellow Manifesto (Catalan Anti-Artistic Manifesto) that amounted to a fierce attack on conventional art.

He travelled again to Paris in 1929 and, through Joan Miró, came into contact with the group of surrealists headed by André Breton.That summer, in Cadaqués, Dalí meets Gala (her real name was Elena Ivanovna Diakonova), his future wife and major muse.

His works evolve along time influenced by different movements such as cubism, purism and futurism.

In 1939 the Metropolitan Opera House of New York staged the first performance of the ballet Bacchanale, with libretto, costumes and sets by Salvador Dalí and choreography by Léonide Massine.

After a few trips to the United States, in 1940, with the entrance of the German troops to Bordeaux, the couple went to live in the United States, where they were to remain until 1948.

On that period, Dalí’s interest in jewelry design began. He began his professional relationship with the photographer Philippe Halsman, which was to continue right up to the latter’s death in 1979. He exhibited at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. On October 8th the Ballets Russes de Montecarlo gave their first performance at the Metropolitan Opera House of Labyrinth, with libretto, decors and costumes by Dalí, choreography by Léonide Massine and music by Schubert. New York’s MOMA gallery inaugurated on November 18th an anthological exhibition devoted to Dalí and Miró.

Ten years after their return to Europe, on August 8th, Dalí and Gala were married at the Els Àngels shrine in Sant Martí Vell, near Girona.

In 1961, the period of gestation of the Dalí Theatre-Museum began.

He was awarded the Gran Cruz de Isabel la Católica, the highest Spanish distinction, in 1964. A great retrospective exhibition was inaugurated in Tokyo, organised by Mainichi Newspapers, and then went on to travel to various Japanese cities. Éditions de La Table Ronde published Journal d’un génie (Diary of a Genius). A year later, the Gallery of Modern Art in New York inaugurated the anthological exhibition Salvador Dali 1910-1965.

In 1969, Dalí purchased Púbol Castle and decorated it for Gala. Over the course of the next two decades the interest of the painter for science and holography increased, for they offered him new perspectives in his constant quest for mastery of three-dimensional images. Dalí studied and used the potential of the new discoveries, particularly those related with the third dimension. He took an interest in all procedures aimed at offering the viewer an impression of plasticity and space; with the third dimension he aspired to gain access to the fourth, namely, immortality.

In 1970 the artist held a press conference at the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris, in which he announced the creation of the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. It was four years later, on September 28th when the Dalí Theatre-Museum was finally inaugurated.

In 1979 he was appointed associate overseas member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France. A major Dalí retrospective was inaugurated at the Georges-Pompidou Centre in Paris, as well as the ‘”Environnement” he had specially designed for the centre. By then well into the 1980s he was to paint his last works, basically taking their inspiration from Michelangelo and Raphael, whom he had always admired.

A major anthological exhibition, 400 works by Salvador Dalí from 1914 to 1983, was held in Madrid, Barcelona and Figueres. His last pictorial works date from this period.

Dalí died in Figueres on 23 January 1989.