Salvador Dali and His Family
Written by Brian Callahan
Salvador Dali lived in the shadow of his deceased older brother who had died nine months before Salvador’s birth. This older brother’s name who had died before Salvador Dali’s birth was also named Salvador. When he was five, Dalí was taken to his brother’s grave and told by his parents that he was his brother’s reincarnation.. Dali would believe this for the rest of his life.
Dali’s parents both were supportive of his artistic talents but tension between his father and him had always existed. His father was a lawyer and was seemingly a very disciplinary father towards the young Dali. His mother was perhaps more so the one to help and push Dali in becoming an artist since Dali’s father had other plans for his son’s future. Despite this his father was still supportive of Dali’s artistic inclinations and financially supported Dali towards becoming an artist and helped him get into art school. Dali’s father actually accompanied Dali when he took his entry exams to hopefully get into art school. His father after Dali had taken the entry exam supported and calmed Dali by reassuring him that his still life piece that he drew for the exam would get him into the school even though the young Dali had thought he had done a poor rendition in comparison to the other hopeful students. Dalí’s father also organized an exhibition of Dali’s charcoal drawings in their family home. Dali had a younger sister named Ana Maria which I am not sure of their relationship. His sister did however write a book called Dali As Seen By His Sister, so perhaps this book could possibly shed some light on their relationship.. but I haven’t read it.. yet…
Salvador’s mother died of cancer when Dali was only sixteen. Her death Dali said was the greatest blow he ever experienced in his life. He loved his mother dearly and in losing her I think troubles that had always existed between his father and him would grow after her death since she would not be there to support Dali or quell whatever problems her son and husband may have had between them in the future.
Dali’s father was angered after Dali dropped out of art school and when Dali worked with the other surrealists Dali’s father believed them to be a bad influence on his son’s morals. His father at this point highly disapproved Dali’s life style and their relationship in turn grew more hostile. When Dali’s father had learned of Dali’s romance with Gala.. who was ten years older than Dali and she was also already married to Paul Eluard at that time Dali’s father had become very close to a breaking point. The final straw came when Dali’s father read in the newspaper about a drawing of Dali’s called the “Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ” in which Dali had written a provocative inscription “Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother’s portrait” Dali’s father asked his son to recant publicly for the statement but Dali refused perhaps being afraid he would be thrown out of the surrealist group. Dali’s father then disinherited him and told him to never set foot in his home town of Cadaques again. Dali reacted to his disinheritance by shaving all the hair from his head including his eyebrows and buried his hair in the sand… which is highly symbolic of his banishment from his family…
Dali and his father didn’t speak for 20 or more years but when his father was on his death bed they finally made amends. Up until his disinheritance Dali’s father was still financially supporting Dali for the most part since Dali had not quite reached his fame. Dali and Gala struggled with money after his disinheritance and for quite a long time even after Dali had become famous.
Dali noted in his autobiography The Secret Life Of Salvador Dali, that the house which he built in Port Lligat, Cadaques had a view of his family home where he had grown up and expands on how and why he picked this spot for his own home that over looked the home he had grown up in and was disinherited from. The landscape and location of his home in Port Lligat was highly symbolic of his inner feelings towards his expulsion from his family.
Dali actually doesn’t reveal much more than I have written here about his feelings and his relationship to his family in his autobiography. But after reading his autobiography I felt that his relationship to his family was an important aspect of his life that needed more analyzing to further understand the inner workings that Dali reveals in his book The Secret Life Of Salvador Dali. I highly suggest reading it if you want to know more about the man that is surrealism! It’s one of the best books I have ever read..
And now I will leave you with my favorite quote by Salvador Dali that I think all of the human race should keep close to their hearts…
“Cosmonaut of the future throw off your space suit and long live Robin Hood and Tarzan. Give up this absurd voyage into space.. But run through our humble terrestrial dwelling! Long live the bicycle! Enrich your own internal richness! Have only one goal.. one desire.. that to live.. and to live for a long time!”