The dawn of modern painting was full of great painters, names that many of us know, but there was only one who was a genius all around. In addition to painting, he excelled in sculpture and design. Most of all, he was a master of self-promotion who would sit down with a leopard for his picture and would grow a mustache so different that everyone could recognize him at once. His name was Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali (1904-1989), born in the Catalan town of Figueres,Spain, was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, perhaps best known for his surrealist works.
As a young man he studied at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Following his first solo show in 1925 in Barcelona, Dali later achieved international recognition in Europe, the United States and Japan. After residing in the United States from 1940-1948, Dali returned to Europe and resettled in Spain. Dali died of heart failure at the age of 84 in his hometown of Figueres.
In 1961, when Salvador Dali's hometown of Figueres was preparing its tribute to the artist, the poet Fages de Climent was a member of the organizing committee. At that time, he penned a series of verses based on drawings by Dali. The work - entitled “The Triumph and Couplet of Gala and Dali” - was completed in a matter of days. Dali’s drawings were done in India ink on a single sheet of paper and according to the poet, completed all in one night. The work is composed of 43 pairs of drawings and verses. In the margins of the sheet are three drawings without verse. The work is a summary of the Dali myth, including his special little men and well-known obsessions.
The edition for the general public was available for sale on the day of the tribute; later, a special edition was produced with 43 copies signed by the artist and poet, as well as five printer’s proofs.
Dali held Fages in high regard, as can be seen by the artist’s letter to him some days after the tribute: “Confirming the authorization that I gave verbally, you may exploit my original drawings in “The Triumph and Couplet of Gala and Dali” in any form or application, editorially or in industry, at your own risk and on your own account. I hope you know how to do this, and send you warm regards.” (Letter dated September 28, 1961, property of Eduard Fornes.
Since 1974, 13 years after the building’s inauguration, the work can be found at the door to the patio of the Theater-Museum in Figueres.
As the 1961 write ups about the festival explain, the vignettes include references to his special admiration for Picasso, Gaudi, Garcia Lorca, William Tell, and Don Quixote. He also included symbols of his own work, ants, soft watches, and crutches. For many years his work remained forgotten and unexplored. Recently it was rediscovered and enjoyed a rise to prominence as a hallmark of Dali’s stature as innovator of modern art and pioneer of Surrealism.
Dali himself was curious mix of visionary, artistic genius, rebel, iconoclast, philopher, and of course romantic and lover of the good life - endlessly thinking and creating.
Whereas Dali is known for his painting and illustrations, less known were his accomplishments in sculpture, architecture, glass making, furniture, and jewelry. He was also a worldwide success at self promotion and money making. While Dali envisioned himself larger than life, he also embodied originality and elegance.