Celebrating Dalí

In the celebration of what would have been the 114th birthday of one of the world’s most famous surrealists, we invite you to learn about his life in London and follow his steps.


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11 May in 1904, was the day when a famous Spanish artist was born. Named as Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Dalí de Púbol, he is better known as just Salvador Dalí. He grew up in a town called Figueres, in the region of Catalonia, Spain.

Surrealism started early in his life. He was named after his older brother Salvador, who died nine months before he was born. When Dalí was five, his parents took him to the cemetery where the departed brother was buried. Salvador’s father convinced him that he is a reincarnation of his brother. Salvador believed in it. Dalí later said: “ we resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections.”

In 1922 Dalí moved from his hometown in Catalonia to the Residence of Students in Madrid. Here he studied at the Academy of Decorative Arts of San Fernando. During this time Dalí experimented with Cubism and Dadaism. 

He held his first solo exhibition in Barcelona from 14 to 27 November 1925. Later, he made a trip to Paris where he met Pablo Picasso. Picasso already knew about Dalí from his friend Joan Miró. Dalí’s later works were heavily influenced by these two artists. 

Then the thirties came and Salvador Dalí moved to London. Here is what happened…


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  • He took a part in the International Surrealist Exhibition, in 1936, where he gave a lecture called ‘Fantômes paranoiaques authentiques’. He wore a deep-sea diving suit and a helmet the whole time he was speaking. Besides his outfit, he showed up carrying a billiard cue and walking two Russian wolfhounds. “I just wanted to show that I was ‘plunging deeply’ into the human mind.” – he spoke about his looks.

Get inspired walking around the area that was hosting the exhibition. It was held in the New Burlington Galleries, which is not there anymore, however, you can still get the feeling by walking along the Savile Row in Mayfair. Don’t forget to visit the Royal Academy while you are nearby


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  • During his stay in the city, his patron was Edward James, a British poet. Dalí lived under the support of James for two years. During the time James bought a lot of artworks of Dalí’s to help him emerge into the world of art. They have been also collaborating and the results of that are The Lobster Phone and May West Lips Sofa – one of the most important works of surrealism of all time. 

Pay a visit to the Tate Modern gallery located on the Queens Walk. Check out the famous Lobster Phone as well as gaze upon the paintings of the surrealist master. 


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  • In 1938 another famous character moved to London – Sigmund Freud, who was escaping the Nazi regime in Austria. Shortly after Freud’s move, Salvador Dalí paid him a visit. Dalí also painted the famous portrait of the psychoanalyst. It was Dalí’s dream to meet Freud, he was happy to hear the comment that Freud later made about their meeting. “This boy looks like a fanatic.” – said Freud. 

Enter number 20 of Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead – home of the Freuds in London. Explore the exhibition and most importantly climb to the first floor to see the painting Salvador Dalí made in your own eyes. 


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