Salvador Dali was born on May 11, 1904 in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Spain. The son of a prosperous notary, Dali spent his boyhood in Figueres and at the family's summer home in the coastal fishing village of Cadaques. It was there that his parents built his first studio. As a child, Dali had a twin brother who passed away very young. His parents struggled with the tragedy and began calling him by his brother’s name, causing Dali’s first psychosis.
Dali attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Early recognition of Dali's talent came with his first one-man show in Barcelona in 1925. In 1928, he became internationally known when three of his paintings were shown in the third annual Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh. Dali soon became a leader of the Surrealist Movement. His painting, The Persistence of Memory, with the melting watches is still one of the best-known surrealist works.
Dali and Gala escaped from Europe during World War II, spending 1940-48 in the United States. These were very important years for the artist. The Museum of Modern Art in New York gave Dali his first major retrospective exhibit in 1941. This was followed in 1942 by the publication of Dali's autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali. In 1974, Dali opened the Teatro Museo in Figueres, Spain. This was followed by retrospectives in Paris and London. After the death of his wife in 1982, Dali's health began to fail. Salvador Dali died on January 23, 1989.
As an artist, Salvador Dali was not limited to a particular style or media. The body of his work, from early impressionist paintings through his transitional surrealist period, reveals a constantly growing and evolving artist. Dali worked in all media, leaving behind a wealth of great art work.