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Dali

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Dali

Spanish painter. Born into a middle-class family, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, where he mastered academic techniques. Dalí also pursued his personal interest in Cubism and Futurism and was expelled from the academy for indiscipline in 1923. He formed friendships with Lorca and Buñuel, read Freud with enthusiasm and held his first one-man show in Barcelona (1925), where he exhibited a number of seascapes. He wrote the screenplay for Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou (produced in 1928), largely thanks to which he was adopted by the Surrealists. In Paris he met Picasso and Breton, and his involvement from 1929 onwards, his effervescent activity, his flair for getting publicity through scandal and his vivacity which counterbalanced the political difficulties encountered by the group, made him a particularly welcome addition.

"Over the next few years Dalí devoted himself with passionate intensity to developing his method, which he described as 'paranoiac-critical', a 'spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivation of delirious associations and interpretations'. It enabled him to demonstrate his personal obsessions and fantasies by uncovering and meticulously fashioning hidden forms within pre-existing ones, either randomly selected (postcards, beach scenes, photographic enlargements) or of an accepted artistic canon (canvases by Millet, for example). It was at this period that he was producing works like The Lugubrious Game (1929), The Persistence of Memory (1931) and Surrealist Objects, Gauges of Instantaneous Memory (1932). Flaccid shapes, anamorphoses and double-sided figures producing a trompe-l'œil effect combine in these works to create an extraordinary universe where the erotic and the scatological jostle with a fascination for decay - a universe that is reflected in his other works of this period, including his symbolic objects and poems (La Femme visible, 1930; L'Amour et la mémoire, 1931) as well as the screenplay for L'Age d'Or (1930).

"It soon became apparent, however, that there was an inherent contradiction in Dalí's approach between what he himself described as 'critical paranoia' - which lent itself to systematic interpretation - and the element of automatism upon which his method depended. Breton soon had misgivings about Dalí's monsters which only lend themselves to a limited, univocal reading. Dalí's extreme statements on political matters, in particular his fascination for Hitler, struck a false note in the context of the Surrealist ethic and his relations with the rest of the group became increasingly strained after 1934. The break finally came when the painter declared his support for Franco in 1939.
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