Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí is universally considered one of the most celebrated artists of all time. His fiercely technical, yet highly unusual paintings, sculptures and visionary explorations in film and life-size interactive art ushered in a new generation of imaginative expression. From his personal life to his professional enterprises, he welcomed taking risks and proved how diversified the world can be when you dare to embrace pure, boundless creativity. From an artistic foundation influenced by the Renaissance masters, Dalí’s scope broadened to become recognized as one of the leaders of the Surrealist movement. While he served as an inspiration to many modern artists, his eccentric personality and trademark moustache contributed to his reputation as a cultural icon.

Born on May 1, 1904, in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Spain, Dalí spent his childhood in both Figueres and the coastal fishing village of Cadaqués, where his parents built his first studio. As an adult, he lived  in nearby Port Lligat with his wife Gala, who became his muse, business manager, and chief inspiration. Many of his paintings reflect his affection of this area of Spain. After attending the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Dalí’s special talent was recognized at his first one-man show in Barcelona in 1925. International prominence arrived at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928, where three of his paintings were exhibited, including The Basket of Bread, which is now in The Dalí Museum’s collection in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Following his first one-man show in Paris in 1929, Dalí joined the Surrealists, led by former Dadaist, André Breton, soon becoming 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. However, as World War II approached, the apolitical Dalí’s disagreements with the Surrealists culminated in his near expulsion during a “trial” in 1934 and Breton definitively expelled him from Surrealism in 1939. Dalí and Gala escaped from Europe during World War II, spending 1940-48 in the United States as he transitioned to a new style, his “classic” period, demonstrating a preoccupation with science, history and religion. His series of 19 large canvases reflected this fascination in such monumental works as The Hallucinogenic Toreador, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, and The Sacrament of the Last Supper. After Gala’s death in 1982, Dalí’s health deteriorated and he died in his birthplace of Figueres in 1989.

Sources in The Dalí Museum Library:

Written by Dalí:

Finkelstein, Haim. The Collected Writings of Salvador Dalí. The Salvador Dalí Museum, 2017.

This volume includes virtually all of Dalí’s writings published in the 1920’s and 1930’s, most of which appear here for the first time in an English translation. Also, it presents a substantial selection of the shorter pieces published in the 1940’s and later, including excerpts from some of his book-length works. The texts are accompanied by extensive commentaries and annotations that illustrate the rich intellectual background brought by Dalí to his writings.

Call Number: N 7113 .D3 A35 2017

Dalí, Salvador. The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. Dial Press, 1942

This autobiography is not hindered by any lapses of memory as Dalí holds nothing back about his life, resulting in a remarkably uninhibited human document written in simple, understandable prose. From his boyhood in Spain, his unique schooling, the first realization of his talent as an artist, his expulsion from art school, his courtships, and his quarrels to his entrance into the surrealist movement, Dalí explains himself in detail. Focusing on his professional endeavors, Dalí describes what a man of his superior technical ability is trying to do in his work.

Call Number: ND 813 .D3 A37 1942

Dalí, Salvador. 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship. Dial Press, 1948.

In this rare, yet important volume, Dalí expresses in his trademark eccentric style his ideas of what painting should be, elaborates on what is good and bad painting, offers opinions on the merits of Vermeer, Picasso, Cézanne, and other artists, and details his views on the history of painting. Blending outrageous egotism and unconventional humor, Dalí presents 50 “secrets” for mastering the art of painting as well as many other Dalíesque prescriptions for artistic success. Illustrated with the artist’s own drawings, this work is a captivating mixture of serious artistic advice, lively personal anecdotes, and academic craftsmanship.

Call Number: ND 1260 .D26 1948

Dalí, Salvador. Diary of a Genius. Doubleday, 1965.

This volume is a record of Dalí’s life from 1952 to 1963. It is a diary of his reflections of his wife Gala, Garcia Lorca, Vermeer, as well as a memory of his father and the quietude of a Mediterranean sunrise, and other highlights. Think of this book not as a confession or an autobiography, but more as a mixture of impressions, experiences, and revelations of the “Dalínian” personality.

Call Number:  N 7113 .D3 A2 1965

Dalí on Modern Art. Dial Press, 1957.

In this brilliant, sarcastic, and provocative book, which contains both Haakon Chevalier’s cogent translation and Dalí’s original French text, the self-proclaimed “outstanding modern genius” explains what is wrong with modern art, its artists and its critics. Whether commenting on fellow Spaniard, Pablo Picasso, or others, such as, Paul Cézanne, Piet Mondrian, and Jackson Pollack, his critiques are pungent and penetrating. The volume includes renderings of fifteen of the paintings Dalí deals with in the text and fifty-seven of Dalí’s calligraphic devices as decorations.

Call Number: N 69 .D313, Dial Press, 1957

Dalí, Salvador. Hidden Faces. Dial Press, 1944.

Dalí’s only novel is written in richly visual language, describing the lives and loves of a group of aristocratic characters, who in their luxury and extravagance, symbolize the decadent Europe of the 1930’s. This story of the tangled lives of the protagonists, from the February riots of 1934 in Paris to the closing days of World War II, is a clever vehicle for Dalí’s ideas and a perceptive glimpse of pre-war Europe. The book is invaluable because it synthesizes all of the themes in Dalí’s art.

Call Number: PQ 6607 .A4 H5 1944

Dalí, Salvador. The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus. The Salvador Dalí Museum, 1986.

This first English translation by Eleanor R. Morse follows the original manuscript, which was written by Salvador Dalí sometime in the 1930’s, and after Dalí’s Secret Life of 1942 is considered the second most vital source of information relating to his creative process.  The English edition, so vital to the understanding of Dalí’s obsessions, offers American students their first opportunity to explore the sources of his passion for Millet’s Angelus, and revealing his fear of grasshoppers and his fascination with the praying mantis. This volume includes The Myth of William Tell, which is a natural companion piece to the Angelus Myth.

Call Number: ND 553 .M6 A6313 1986

Dalí, Salvador. Dalí by Dalí. Harry N. Abrams, 1970.

In this volume, translated by Eleanor R. Morse, Dalí’s themes and philosophical reflections are illustrated in a chronological collection of his cosmic paintings. The book is divided into five sections entitled The Planetarium Dalí, The Molecular Dalí, The Monarchical Dalí, The Hallucinogenic Dalí, and The Futuristic Dalí with examples of each. This work should be considered as a companion piece with vivid details of Dalí’s paintings.

Call Number: ND 8113 .D3 A332 1970


Biographical Sources:

Gibson, Ian. The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí. Norton, 1998.

In this comprehensive volume, which is considered the gold standard of the Dalí biographies, the artist’s life is traced from its roots in the Catalan region of Spain and his experience coming to terms with his sexuality. Dalí’s relationships in Madrid with future film director Luis Buñuel and the charismatic writer Federico Garcia Lorca are well-documented along with the influences of Picasso and Miro. Extensive interviews with some of those closest to the artist as well as detailed exploration of his correspondence, novels, poems, and essays bring the essence of Dalí vividly to the reader.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 G53 1998

Secrest, Maryle. Salvador Dalí. E.P Dutton, 1986.

This in-depth, unauthorized and uncensored biography goes behind the Dalí façade to reveal a host of hitherto unknown details linking the master’s troubled childhood as the origin of his later behavior and the reason for his desperate attempts to assert his individuality. Based on new material and interviews with former friends and colleagues, the book delves into Dalí’s friendships with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca and the filmmaker Luis Buñuel, his impact on Surrealism, and his marriage to Gala. This work serves as a valuable source of information related to the artists’ complex business dealings.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 S43 1980

Etherington-Smith, Meredith. The Persistence of Memory: A Biography of Dalí. Random House, 1992.

This biography examines unpublished letters and previously unavailable archives to penetrate the mystique of Dalí and put his work in context. The powerful effect on Dalí of the memorable landscapes of his Catalan childhood are explored and his early relationships with fellow arts students Garcia Lorca and Luis Buñuel. Of course, a healthy portion of the book is devoted to Gala, his wife, muse, and ultimately tormentor, and their bizarre marriage.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 E84 1992

Cowles, Fleur. The Case of Salvador Dalí. Heinemann, 1959.

This book is recognized as the first authorized biography of one of the most eccentric geniuses of the twentieth century. Dalí is presented as an astonishing, self-styled genius with endless talents besides painting. The volume is complete with unpublished documents, letter, critical appraisals, including thirty-three pages of unique photographs.

Call Number: ND813 .D3 C6 1959

Ades, Dawn. Dalí. Thames and Hudson, 1982.

This thought-provoking biography provides in-depth analysis of Dalí’s uneasy relationship to Surrealism as he was never completely accepted by the Surrealists. Key questions about Dalí’s popularity, artistry, and genius are addressed in this sensitive and searching text by examining his work and life in its contemporary context. The volume includes 170 illustrations, 28 of them in color.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 A84 1982

Lear, Amanda. My Life With Dalí. Virgin Books, 1985.

As a close friend and confidante of Dalí for fifteen years, accompanying him on trips to Paris, New York, Madrid and Cadaqués, the author reveals special moments for the first time. She reflects on her past romance with Dalí, the nature of their relationship, and her friendship with Gala. While looking back at her own frenetic life as a well-known singer and international star, offers her insights on New York bohemia and British culture.

Call Number: N 7113 .D3 L43 1985

Teixdor, Montse Aguer (Gonzalez, Carme Ruis and Ruybio, Teresa Moner).                           Salvador Dalí: An Illustrated Life. Tate, 2007.

This volume documents the course of Dalí’s life through personal photographs, pages from his sketchbooks, drawings, letters, posters and commercial designs, in addition to several masterpieces for which he is best known. The book includes an array of previously unpublished material from the archives of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation. This compilation serves as both a perfect introduction to Dalí’s art and an essential acquisition to increase appreciation of his impact.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 A8913 2007

Baudoin, Edmond. Dalí. SelfMadeHero, 2016.

One of the most original talents in contemporary French comics, Baudoin’s mission is to discover the man behind the myth. The result is a heartfelt and distinctive account of two artistic worlds meeting for the first time. This account is a meticulously researched and absorbing portrait of a singular artists and an enigmatic man.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 B3813 2016

Del Arco, Manuel. Dalí in the Nude. Salvador Dalí Museum, 1984

This volume is the first translation of the original work. It offers a series of poignant interviews of Dalí during the first stage of his masterworks. The book has the famous photograph of Dalí actually in the nude talking to Del Arco.

Call number: ND813 .D3 D47 1984

Pauwels, Louis. The Passions According to Dalí. Salvador Dalí Museum, 1985.

Finally, the first English translation of this highly charged and introspective text is available as an authentic “source book” for a real understanding of Dalí. With the avalanche of biographies and memoirs on the Dalí scene, nothing matches the master’s own intensive biographical reflections as presented in this volume. Eleanor R. Morse is uniquely positioned as the translator based on her vast experience of working directly with Dalí himself on such books as Dalí de Draeger and Dalí by Robert Descharnes, both originally published in French.

Call Number: ND813 .D3 A2 1985

Romero, Luis. Dalí. Chartwell Books, 1975.

This biography combines both the author’s first-hand knowledge of Dalí, and his analysis of Dalí’s own writings and what others have written about him. The result is a unique picture of Dalí’s work, weaving in a substantial amount of biographical content. As a personal friend of Dalí’s, the author’s comments on his life and art are interspersed with extensive anecdotes and stories.

Call Number: ND 813 .D3 R65 D355 1975


Other Sources:

Aguer, Montse. Dalí’s World. Goodman, 2009.

This volume presents a dynamic platform for the reader to learn about the events, people and places that influenced Dalí, and the diversity of his work by examining more than 160 illustrations. Dalí’s varied interests resulted in illustrations for books and advertising, writing, films, jewelry and sculpture. Unique to this book is the inclusion of more than 20 facsimile documents, such as, Dalí’s student card, notes for a film with the Marx Brothers, an extract from Vogue, and an original design for jeweled sculpture.

Call Number: ND813 .D3 A8513 2009

Finkelstein, Haim. Salvador Dalí’s Art and Writing, 1927-1942: The Metamorphoses of Narcissus. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Through his association, first with the Catalan avant-garde and followed by the Surrealist group in Paris, this study examines the evolution of Dalí’s art during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Finkelstein demonstrates that Dalí’s writings were important for the critical role that they played in his development as an artist and a controversial cultural figure. Here, these writings are scrutinized in detail as the foundation for Dalí’s unique artistic vision.

Call Number: ND813 .D3 F56 1996

Radford, Robert. Dalí. Phaidon Press, 1997.

Dalí’s complex personality and rich variety of his work are analyzed against the background of ideological and political conflict that erupted in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The artist’s career is traced from the pivotal early years in the Spanish town of Figueres to membership of the Surrealist group in 1930’s Paris, and continuing to New York and Hollywood, where he became a media star and cultural icon. The book is enhanced with a multitude of the artist’s works, illustrations, and family photographs.

Call Number: N7113 .D3 R23 1997

Ades, Dawn. Dalí’s Optical Illusions. Wadsworth Antheneum, 2000.

This visually gripping book focuses on Dalí’s fascination with optical effects and visual perception by examining his use of various pictorial techniques, photography, and holograms. Also, his interest in other more conventional forms of perspective and their sources in both Dutch and Italian art are reviewed. Also, his obsession with optical effects and three-dimensional illusions that is apparent in his post-war work is revealed and scrutinized by the various art historians.

Call Number: N813 .D3 A4 2000

Lake, Carlton. In Quest of Dalí. Putman’s Sons, 1969.

This book is not a formal biography, but rather should be viewed as an all-encompassing canvas of Dalí’s world, revealing the man through his own words and actions. Shuttling back and forth between New York and Paris, the reporting offers surprising insights into the world of art, including the interactions of critics and gallery owners and the intersection of creativity and commerce. With all of these elements playing a role in his universe, the author presents his own interpretation and evaluation of the different levels of Dalí and his self-created enigma.

Call Number: ND813.D3 L3 1969

Roig, Sebastia. Dalí – The Emporda Triangle. Triangle Postals, 2003.

This book explores photographically the land surrounding three major landmarks of Dalí’s life: his house at Port Lligat; the castle of Pubol, where he lived in his old age and where his wife Gala is buried; and the Dalí Theatre-Museum of Figueres, where he himself is buried. Jordy Puig’s expansive, glossy landscape photographs throughout the Emporda Triangle faithfully present an extensive tour of these three centers of Dalínian experience. Some of these landscapes and buildings recur in Dalí’s work and the Dalí’s personality cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of these three centers.

Call Number: ND813 .D3 R6313 2003

Morse, A. Reynolds. Salvador Dalí – A Panorama of His Art. Salvador Dalí Museum, 1975.

This volume catalogs and explains 93 oil paintings by Salvador Dalí in The Dalí Museum, representing the first attempt to examine the essential probity of his easel works since J.T. Soby’s essay of 1942. It is specifically designed as a handbook for those who admire Dalí, but who have not yet found a book that treats his painting in an understandable, straight-forward manner. Each oil is annotated and its principal iconography is summarized in simplified form.

Call Number: ND813 .D3 S34 1974


Written by Ira Piller

About The Dalí Museum
The Dalí Museum, located in the heart of picturesque downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, is home to an unparalleled collection of over 2,400 Salvador Dalí works, including nearly 300 oil paintings, watercolors and drawings, as well as more than 2,100 prints, photographs, posters, textiles, sculptures and objets d’art. The Museum’s nonprofit mission, to care for and share its collection locally and internationally, is grounded by a commitment to education and sustained by a culture of philanthropy.

The Dalí is recognized internationally by the Michelin Guide with a three-star rating; has been deemed “one of the top buildings to see in your lifetime” by AOL Travel News; and named one of the ten most interesting museums in the world by Architectural Digest. The building itself is a work of art, including a geodesic glass bubble, nicknamed The Enigma, featuring 1,062 triangular glass panels, a fitting tribute to Salvador Dalí’s legacy of innovation and transformation. Explore The Dalí anytime with the free Dalí Museum App, available on Google Play and in the App Store. The Dalí Museum is located at One Dalí Boulevard, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.