Dalí joven. 1918-1930

18 october, 1994 - 16 january, 1995 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 1

This exhibition, focusing on the artistic and literary production of Salvador Dali (Figueras, Spain, 1904-1989) between 1918 and 1930, traces the configuration of the Dali character, from his first successful exhibitions in Figueras until his immersion into Parisian surrealism, including his move to Paris in 1929. For this, all factors (artistic and family) involved in defining his provocative personality are put on display and he finds in Surrealism the ideal setting for the launch of his "anti-artistic" aesthetic project. In this way, this exhibition is a counterweight to André Breton’s view who, in an edition of Le Surréalisme et la peinture (1928/1968), argued that "when Salvador Dali was introduced in 1929 to Surrealism, his earlier work had not announced anything rigorously personal."

The more than two hundred works (paintings, drawings, exhibition catalogues, manuscripts, letters and photographs - material that showed his relationship with Federico García Lorca, a key figure in his time in Madrid - as well as fragments of Un Chien Andalou (1929) the movie that he produced along with Luis Buñuel) illustrate the beginning of a career influenced by key dates and the alternation of scenes (Madrid and Cadaqués). If in 1919 the critics defined him as a painter of beautiful nature pieces, as pointed out by Professor of Art History Felix Fanés, who finds in Impressionism subjects and a painting technique, then his transfer to the capital in 1922 marks the beginning of a two-track aesthetic which characterises his work during this decade, turning the Students’ Residency and the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts into the two extremes (and environments) that polarise his works. Parallel to the Ana María (1923-1925) series, dedicated to his sister and an example of a polished realism because of the mastery of drawing, he produces the "cubist paintings" in which, in the words of the poet and art critic Rafael Santos Torroella, "includes a variety of impregnations ranging from futurism to purism to the metaphysical Italians around the magazine Valori Plastici (1918-1922), especially passing through Juan Gris and with derivations of the first two, such as Rafael Barradas’ vibrationism and Celso Lagar’s planism."

From 1927 the critics refer negatively to the two directions in which Dali paints: the academic and the extravagant and the paradoxical trigger. The bond he establishes with Joan Miró, his first trip to Paris in 1926 - where he meets Picasso - and the radicalisation of his position, as revealed by his declarations against the Catalan cultural and pictorial traditions visible in Manifest Groc (1928), are the preamble to his final leap into surrealism and in overcoming what he calls the putrid culture. Immediately defined are his icons and his theories on the construction of images resulting from his "paranoiac critical method" that are embodied in works such as: Cenicitas, (1928), Rostro de El Gran masturbador (1929), La acomodación de los deseos (1929) and Durmiente, caballo, león invisibles (1930).

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Hayward Gallery, London; Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Ana Beristáin
Exhibition Tour: 

Hayward Gallery, London (March 5 - May 30, 1994); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (June 28 - September 18, 1994); Palau Robert, Barcelona (February - April, 1995)