Salvador Dalí


Salvador Dalí (1904-89), born in Figueres in the Catalonian region of Spain, is one of the 20th century’s most famous artists. In 1929 he burst to fame on entering the Parisian art world in his activity as an artist representing Surrealism, though before long he advanced to America, acquiring enormous popularity. Gathering attention for evoking nightmarish spectacles through paintings elaborately delineating grotesque and scandalous imagery on the one hand, he was also active in taking part in the planning in the different fields of film, theater and fashion, carrying out collaborations with, among others, Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney and Elsa Schiaparelli. Along with the publication of his writings, he also frequently appeared in journalism and the media. Against the background of the arrival of mass society led by the mass media, Dalí transformed the way art and the artist ought to be and is certainly one of the forerunners of contemporary art.

This exhibition, the first full-scale Dalí retrospective held in Japan in almost ten years, concentrates on works brought from the three principal Dalí collections in the world, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (Figueres, Spain), The Salvador Dalí Museum (St. Petersburg, USA), and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain). Along with important works from domestic collections, an approximate 250 pieces introduce Dalí’s multifaceted world. Living through the upheavals of the 20th century, this will be an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy seeing overwhelming works continually presented that are Dalí’s fascination.

Date September 14 (Wed.) - December 12 (Mon.), 2016
Closed on Tuesdays
Open Hours 10:00 - 18:00
*10:00 - 20:00 on Fridays, 10:00 - 22:00 on October 21 (Fri.) and 22 (Sat.)
(Last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu-Shin-Bijutsukan), Special Exhibition Gallery 1E
7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558
Organized by The National Art Center, Tokyo, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, The Salvador Dalí Museum, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nippon Television Network Corporation, and BS Nippon Corporation
Co-Organized by PIA Corporation, WOWOW INC.
Supported by Embassy of Spain, TOKYO FM BROADCASTING CO., LTD.
With the special sponsorship of CANON INC.
With the sponsorship of Kao Corporation, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc., Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd., TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION, Mizuho Bank, Ltd., MITSUI & CO., LTD.
In cooperation of Nippon Cargo Airlines Co., Ltd., JAPAN AIRLINES
(tax included)
General 1,600 yen (Adults), 1,200 yen (College students), 800 yen (High school students)
Advance/Group 1,400 yen (Adults), 1,000 yen (College students), 600 yen (High school students)
  • Visitors who are under junior high school students and disabled people with ID booklets (along with the one assistant) will be admitted for free.
  • Free entrance to the exhibition for high school students from September 17 (Sat.) to September 19 (Mon.), 2016, upon presenting students ID.
  • Advance tickets on sale from June 2 (Thu.), until September 13 (Tue.), 2016 (only until September 12 (Mon.) at the National Art Center, Tokyo).
  • Tickets both Advance and General are available through The National Art Center, Tokyo (only on open days), exhibition website (ONLINE TICKETS), and other major ticket agencies. Service charges may apply. (These service are only available in Japanese.)
  • Group tickets will only be available at the venue and discounts only applicable to groups of 20 people or more.
  • Reduction (100 yen off) applies to visitors who present the ticket stub of a concurrent exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo, Suntory Museum of Art or Mori Art Museum (Art Triangle Roppongi).
  • For Students, faculty and staff, of “Campus Members”, group discounts apply to purchasing tickets.
  • Credit card (UC, Master Card, VISA, JCB, AMEX, Diners Club, DISCOVER) , e-cash (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, etc.), iD, J-Debit and Union Pay are available for purchasing tickets.
Inquiries Tel : +81 (0)3-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)


Chapter 1: Early Works (1904-1922)

Salvador Dalí was born in Figueres, in Spain’s Catalonia region, in 1904. The open and liberal atmosphere of the town, situated between the Catalan capital of Barcelona and the French border, was a key factor in Dalí’s artistic development. He was able also to acquaint himself with the latest artistic trends in Barcelona thanks to his uncle, the owner of a Barcelona bookshop. Dalí’s boyhood geographic and family background is fundamental to understanding his character and his art.

While familiarizing himself with art from books, Dalí took private drawing classes in Figueres with teacher, painter and printmaker Juan Núñez Fernández (1877-1963). Dalí spent summers in the fishing village of Cadaqués where his highly educated and well-to-do parents had a summer home. There he met painter Ramon Pichot Gironès (1871-1925), who introduced the young Dalí to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Throughout his lifetime, Dalí repeatedly painted the Cadaqués landscape and coastline that he so deeply loved.

Chapter 2: Quest for Modernity (1922-1929)

In 1922, Dalí entered the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, a special school in Madrid for painting, sculpture and etching. Living at the Residencia de Estudiantes, one of the most advanced and progressive cultural centers in Spain at the time, he developed relationships with filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) and poet Federico García Lorca (1898-1936).

Works Dalí exhibited at the First Exhibition of the Society of Iberian Artists and in his individual exhibitions in Barcelona during this period show influences of Cubism. He had first become aware of the movement only through catalogues and magazines. Aside from Cubism, Dalí became absorbed in currents of Purism and Futurism, and interested in classical subjects. At the same time, his paintings took on influences of the Fauvism of Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

References and analogies to Picasso’s works became apparent in Dalí’s painting after his 1926 visit with Picasso at his Paris studio. Then, during his stay in Paris in 1928 and 1929, Dalí became involved with André Breton (1896-1966) and his group, and focused on Surrealism.

Chapter 3: Surrealist Period (1929-1939)

Dalí’s 1929 film collaboration with Luis Buñuel, Un Chien andalou, was favorably received by André Breton and his Surrealist group. Breton felt that Dalí lent a new direction to Surrealism and Dalí soon became a representative Surrealist artist. In 1934, however, Dalí’s sympathy towards Adolf Hitler and his appropriation of Lenin’s visage as William Tell in his painting The Enigma of William Tell provoked moves to expel him from the group. Dalí continued to participate with the Surrealists until 1939, when critical remarks published by Breton caused him to break away from the group.

Dalí’s development of his paranoiac-critical method, a technique of superimposing multiple images, revolutionized Surrealism’s concerns with automatism and the unconscious as revealed in dreams.

Chapter 4: Gala as Muse

Gala — Elena Ivanovna Diakonova — was born in 1894 in Tatarstan, the current Russian Federation of Kazan. She spent her childhood in Moscow but, diagnosed with tuberculosis, was sent at age seventeen to a sanatorium in Switzerland. There she met Paul Éluard (1895 -1952) who in 1917 would become her first husband. Éluard was acquainted with the Surrealists and Gala participated in some of the group’s meetings.

Gala first met Dalí in the summer of 1929 in Cadaqués. They immediately bonded and became lifelong companions. Gala was the artist’s collaborator as well as manager of his financial affairs and sales of his art.

Gala was Dalí’s wife and muse. They became fused as Gala Salvador Dalí, the signature Dalí used for his painting from the 1930s.

Chapter 5: Exile in America (1939-1948)

Dalí and Gala first visited the United States in 1934 for Dalí’s second solo exhibition in New York. The press greeted them enthusiastically at the harbor and, with the exhibition a sold-out success, Dalí’s reputation in the United States soared. His portrait appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1936 and he was asked to design the 1939 New York World’s Fair “Dream of Venus” Pavilion.

The outbreak of the Second World War led Gala and Salvador Dalí to take refuge in the United States, where they were to live from 1940 until 1948. The 1941 Dalí retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York sealed the artist’s public image and popularity. His commissions to paint portraits and murals for the wealthy and celebrities, covers for magazines such as Vogue, ballet costume and stage set designs, as well as jewellery, placed him in the eye of the general public.

Dalí’s autobiography, published in 1942, lent to the construction of the Dalí persona as enigmatic and excessive artist.

Chapter 6: Expansion of Dalí’s World

Dalí’s interest in media other than painting is evident in his seminal involvement in Surrealism. His forays in writing poetry and screenplays, however, increased from the time of his stay in the United States. His intention was to create the image of a Renaissance man, while at the same time appealing to the masses.

For the ballet Bacchanal (1939), for example, he designed the costumes and stage sets, and also worked on the script and overall production. In Hollywood, he designed some of the sets for Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945). A year later, in 1946, Dalí turned his attention to animation, working with Walt Disney on a project for a short film, Destino.

In publishing, Dalí had commissions for illustration of classical literature. His novel, Hidden Faces, was published in 1944. In 1949, he undertook various jewelry design and corporate advertising projects.

Chapter 7: Art in the Atomic Age (1945-1950s)

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 had a deep impact on Dalí’s art. He said that many of his landscapes at the time, faithfully depicting the geographically distant coast of Cadaqués, expressed ‘the great fear inspired in me by the announcement of that explosion.’

From the mid-1940s, Dalí became engrossed in the study of atomic physics and painted in a highly realistic style he termed “nuclear painting.” The theory of atomic physics, postulating suspension of separate atomic particles, is reflected in his Leda Atomica (1947-49) and The Madonna of Port Lligat (1950). In his Manifeste mystique (1951), Dalí speaks of himself as a “nuclear mystical painter,” and cites a fusion of religion and science embodied in his “particle paintings.”

At this time, Dalí also gave homage to the great painters of the past. He declares himself the “saviour of modern art,” pointing to his belief in the responsibility to join new understandings of the world with traditions dating to the Renaissance.

Chapter 8: Return to Portlligat (1960s-1980s)

From the 1960s to the end of his career, Dalí’s concentration was on producing large canvases, often with classical themes. His interest in late nineteenth century academism, present since the time of his association with Surrealism, is apparent in paintings such as The Battle of Tetuan (1962) inspired by Catalan painter Marià Fortuny (1838-74).

His interest in science persisted, and he now incorporated the structure of DNA and the genetic code in his pictorial and written work. In addition, he experimented with stereoscopy and holography, based on the latest technical advances.

In the 1960s, Dalí was absorbed with the planning of his Dalí Theatre-Museum (opened in 1974) in his native Figueres. It was built around a transformed old municipal theater, and conceived of as a total work of art and culmination of Dalí’s career as an artist.

During the 1980s, Dalí paid tribute to the great masters, such as Velázquez and Michelangelo, while adding his figurative language to the traditions of western art.