Charles Baudelaire Profile

Charles Baudelaire Profile

Carolyn and I have both long admired the writings of the French poet, philosopher, essayist, and art critic Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire is known for his major contributions to 19th-century French literature and is renowned for his revolutionary collection of lyric poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil).

Charles Pierre Baudelaire was born in Paris in 1821. His father was a senior civil servant and amateur artist, and he was 34 years older than Baudelaire‘s mother. Baudelaire was 6 years old when his father died, so he never had an opportunity to know him well, and his mother remarried a man that Baudelaire never got along with well.

Baudelaire was educated during his stay at a boarding school in Lyon. In 1835, a fellow student at the school had this to say about Baudelaire, “[He was] much more refined and distinguished than any of our fellow pupils… we are bound to one another… by shared tastes and sympathies, the precocious love of fine works of literature.” Baudelaire later attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, where he studied law, and gained his degree in 1839. At the time, the law was a popular course of study for those not yet decided on any particular career.

Baudelaire spent his days in art galleries and cafés, and he experimented with opium and hashish. In 1841 he went on a voyage to Calcutta, India, and the trip left vivid impressions on him that later influenced his poetry. Baudelaire found beauty in the darker elements of human experience and was rather eccentric in his style of dress. He often dressed in black, dyed his hair green, and rebelled against the conformist, bourgeois world of 19th-century Paris in both his personal life and his poetry.

Baudelaire’s first art review was published in 1845, and between 1844 and 1847 eleven of Baudelaire’s poems were published in the Parisian weekly review magazine L’Artiste under a pen name. These were Baudelaire’s first published poems and it is unknown why he used a pen name for both the poems and the art review.

In 1847, Baudelaire’s novella, La Fanfarlo was published. The name in the title, Fanfarlo, has been associated with a Polka-dancer of the time. This novella tells the fictionalized story of the writer’s love affair with a dancer. That same year Baudelaire became acquainted with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, which he felt a strong kinship with.

Baudelaire translated a number of important English works into French, such as Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and many of Poe’s works, which helped to popularize his work in France. Although Baudelaire admired Poe, and the two never met, there was a literary connection between the two writers. Baudelaire found tales and poems by Poe that he claimed, “had long existed” in his “own brain but never taken shape.” Baudelaire also wrote critical essays on contemporary art, and essays on a variety of other subjects.

In 1857 Baudelaire’s most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal was first published, although more poems were added in later editions. Upon its original publication, the poetry collection was embroiled in controversy. Within a month of its publication, the French authorities brought legal action against Baudelaire and his publisher, claiming that the work was “an insult to public decency.”

Although the French government condemned the poetry collection when it was first published, with six of its poems censored due to their “immorality,” it is now considered an important work of French poetry. The poems in this radical volume frequently break with tradition, and deal with themes relating to decadence, eroticism, suffering, and an aspiration toward an ideal world. The final volume of Les Fleurs du mal was published posthumously in 1868, and it includes nearly all of Baudelaire’s poetry, written from 1840 until his death. 

Despite his inheritance of a respectable fortune at the age of 21, making his way financially wasn’t easy for Baudelaire, as he had a taste for extravagance. By 1844, just two years later, he had spent nearly half of his inheritance, and he had become known in artistic circles as a “dandy” and “free spender.” Baudelaire “regularly begged his mother for money throughout his career, often promising that a lucrative publishing contract or journalistic commission was just around the corner.” During the course of his life, he borrowed from his mother an estimated total of 20,473 francs, and much of what is known of his later life comes from his correspondence with her. Baudelaire faced increasing financial difficulties toward the end of his life; he was forced to sell off many of his possessions in order to pay his debts and was frequently in and out of debtors’ prison.

In 1859 Baudelaire’s health began to deteriorate due to chronic illness brought on by stress, poverty, syphilis, and his long-term use of laudanum, a tincture of opium. In 1861 his financial difficulties increased when his publisher went bankrupt. Despite these difficulties, Baudelaire continued to write and publish his works, and he gained recognition for his critical essays.

Baudelaire died in 1867 at the age of 47, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest poets in French literature. He is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. Baudelaire’s mother died in 1871, outliving her son by almost four years.

Despite Baudelaire’s relatively slim production of poetry, his work has had a huge influence on Modernism, a movement in the arts that aims to break with classical and traditional forms of expression, and which embraced experimentation and “a focus on the individual experience.” Baudelaire is noted for his innovative use of creative language, as well as for his use of symbolism and imagery in his poetry, and his work has had a significant impact on later poets.

Some of the quotes that Charles Baudelaire is known for include:

The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.

Any healthy man can go without food for two days — but not without poetry.

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.

An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportion.

Always be a poet, even in prose.

Nothing can be done except little by little.

I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.

Whether you come from heaven or hell, what does it matter, O Beauty!

The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself and others, as he wishes.

by David Jay Brown

William Blake Profile

William Blake Profile

Carolyn and I both appreciate William Blake’s divinely inspired artwork and magnificent poetry.

Born in London in 1757, Blake was an English poet, painter, prophet, and printmaker known for his extraordinary visionary paintings, lithographs, drawings, and numerous volumes of beautiful mystical poems.

Blake attended school just long enough to learn how to read and write. He read widely on his own and was exposed to many bound books and prints by his parents. At the age of ten, his parents arranged for him to take drawing classes, and he went on to become a professional engraver. In 1779 he enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where he studied for six years.

From a young age, and throughout his life, Blake claimed to see visions of a spiritual nature. The visions were often associated with religious themes and imagery; he claimed to see angels too. As a Romantic artist and poet, Blake stressed the primacy of individual imagination and inspiration to the creative process. He believed that imaginative insight was the only way to remove the veil of rational thought that obscures the true nature of reality, claiming that “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

Blake’s extraordinary paintings depict powerful biblical and literary scenes, glorious angels, and radiant illuminated beings, while his poems speak out against social injustices and express mystical visions. Blake illustrated his poems and created beautiful books, such as Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, by integrating writing and painting into a single creative process and using innovative production techniques that combined image and text in single compositions.

Blake’s spiritual visions and insights were central to his creativity, and in his work, he created a complex and unique mythology, with a pantheon populated by deities such as Orc, Urizen, and Enitharmion. Blake illustrated spectacular grand narratives of his own design that were played out in a universe that seemed to exist in a separate reality.

Blake didn’t have it easy. His contemporaries considered him insane, and his lack of commercial success meant he lived in relative poverty. But today he is appreciated as a seminal figure in the history of poetry and visual art of the Romantic Age. Blake died in 1827, with his beloved wife by his side.

Some quotes that William Blake is remembered for include:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

by David Jay Brown

Joseph Campbell Profile

Joseph Campbell Profile

Carolyn and I have appreciated the work of literature professor, author, and mythologist Joseph Campbell, who is recognized today as being one of the most influential experts on mythology.

Joseph John Campbell was born in White Plains, New York in 1904. His father was a hosiery importer and wholesaler, and he was raised in an upper-middle-class Irish Catholic family, with a younger brother.

When Campbell was seven years old, his father took him and his brother to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which made a great impression on him. Campbell “became fascinated, seized, obsessed, by the figure of a naked American Indian with his ear to the ground, a bow and arrow in his hand, and a look of special knowledge in his eyes.”

As a result of this experience, Campbell became extremely interested in Native American culture. By the time he was ten years old, Campbell had read every book on American Indians in the children’s section at his local library and began devouring the books on the subject in the adult section.

In 1921, Campbell graduated from the Canterbury School in Connecticut and initially studied biology and mathematics at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, although he later switched to the humanities, and transferred to Columbia University in New York, where he excelled.

In 1924, after traveling to Europe with his family on a steamship, on the return voyage, he met philosopher and spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti aboard the ship, and they discussed Indian philosophy. This began a friendship between the two; they stayed in touch for five years, and this had a profound influence on Campbell, sparking his interest in Eastern philosophy and Hindu thought.

In 1925 Campbell graduated with a degree in English literature from Columbia University, and then in 1927, he earned a master’s degree in medieval literature from the school. Later that year Campbell received a fellowship from Columbia University to study in Europe, where he studied Old French Provencal and Sanskrit at the University of Paris and the University of Munich.

From 1929 to 1934 Campbell lived in a cabin in Woodstock, New York, where he engaged in an intensive and rigorous independent study. During these years he generally read for nine hours a day, although he traveled to California for a year, between 1931 and 1932, where he became close friends with writer John Steinbeck.

In 1934, Campbell accepted a position as professor of Literature at Sara Lawrence College in New York. Then, in 1938, Campbell married one of his former students, dancer-choreographer Jean Erdman, and they lived together in a two-room apartment in Greenwich Village in New York City for 49 years. In the 1980s they purchased a second apartment in Honolulu, and they divided their time between Hawaii and New York.

In 1943 Campbell coauthored the book Where the Two Came to Their Father: A Navaho War Ceremonial. This book takes its title from the symbolic creation legend of the Navaho people, which they incorporated into their blessing ceremony for tribe members headed to battle, and the book explores how this rite influenced Native Americans during World War II when they were for the first time drafted into the U.S. military.

In 1949 Campbell’s best-known book was published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The book was published to wide acclaim and brought him numerous awards and honors. In this study of the myth of the hero, Campbell proposes the existence of a “monomyth” (a word coined by James Joyce), or “a universal pattern that is the essence of, and common to, heroic tales in every culture.” This book has had a major influence on generations of creative artists, from abstract expressionists in the 1950s to contemporary filmmakers today.

Between 1955 and 1956, Campbell traveled to Asia for the first time and spent months in India and Japan. This had a profound influence on his thinking about Asian religion and myth, and it inspired him to want to teach comparative mythology to a larger audience.

Campbell authored numerous books on mythology, including The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology in 1959, Oriental Mythology in 1962, Occidental Mythology in 1964, and Creative Mythology in 1968. In 1972 he published Myths to Live By, and in 1986 his book The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion was released. Campbell was also a prolific editor. Some of the many books he edited included Alan Watts’ Myth and Ritual in Christianity and The Portable Jung, with work by psychologist Carl Jung.

Campbell also widely lectured, and starting in 1965, he led workshops at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur for many years. In 1972, Campbell retired from Sarah Lawrence College, after having taught there for 38 years.

In 1985, Campbell was awarded the National Arts Club Gold Medal of Honor in Literature. At the award ceremony, James Hillman said, “No one in our century— not Freud, not Thomas Mann, not Lévi-Strauss— has so brought the mythical sense of the world and its eternal figures back into our everyday consciousness.”

In 1987 Campbell died at his home in Hawaii and is buried in Honolulu.

Before his death, Campbell completed filming a series of interviews with Bill Moyers that aired on PBS in 1988 as The Power of Myth, and much interest in his work followed the airing of this popular series. The series discusses mythological, religious, and psychological archetypes, and a book, The Power of Myth, containing expanded transcripts of their conversations, was released shortly after the original broadcast. Millions of viewers were introduced to Campbell’s ideas by the broadcast, which was composed of six hours of conversation that the two men had videotaped over the course of several years.

In 1991, Campbell’s widow Jean Erdman worked with others to create the Joseph Campbell Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and perpetuating Campbell’s mythological work.

Hollywood filmmaker George Lucas has also credited Campbell’s influence. Following the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977, he stated that its story was shaped, in part, by ideas described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and other works of Campbell’s. Many other filmmakers have acknowledged the influence of Campbell’s work on their films, including Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood screenwriter, who created a company memo based on Campbell’s work, A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which led to the development of Disney’s 1994 film The Lion King.

Some of the quotes that Joseph Campbell is known for include:

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.

All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.

Myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths.

by David Jay Brown

Marc Chagall Profile

Marc Chagall Profile

Carolyn and I both love Marc Chagall’s wonderful artwork. His uniquely joyful paintings have a delightfully dreamlike and profoundly playful quality that always lifts my spirits.

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Shagal in 1887. He was born into a devoutly Jewish Lithuanian family in Belarus, which was a part of the Russian empire, and throughout his life he lived in Russia, France, and the United States.

In 1907 Chagall went to St. Petersburg, Russia to study painting and drawing, and he relocated in Paris as a teenager, to develop his artistic style. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the modernism movement strove to create forms of art that reflected the newly emerging industrial world, and Chagall experienced modernism’s “golden age” in the City of Lights.

Chagall is considered a pioneer of modernism, as well as a major Jewish artist. His artwork has been associated with a number of different styles, and he created works in a wide range of mediums, including painting, drawing, stained glass, book illustration, stage sets, ceramics, and tapestries. Some of the recurring themes in Chagall’s paintings include village scenes, peasant life, musicians, dancing, and circuses, with romantic and spiritual overtones.

In the late 1950s, Chagall learned the art of creating with stained glass, and he designed a number of windows at different international locations, including the Cathedral of Metz in France and the United Nations building in New York. Chagall’s gorgeous stained-glass windows are enchantingly beautiful, as the medium’s capacity for brilliant color seems perfectly suited for his celestial and religious imagery.

Chagall’s paintings are housed in a variety of locations around the world, including the Musée Marc Chagall in Nice, France, which Chagall helped to design. Throughout his 75-year career, Chagall produced an astonishing 10,000 works, with dozens of notable paintings. Chagall died in France in 1985. After he died, a stranger said the Jewish prayer for the dead (the kaddish) over his coffin. Chagall is remembered as a great pioneer of modern art and one of its most brilliant figurative painters.

Carolyn created a tribute to Chagall with her painting After Chagall. Many people have stated that Carolyn’s art reminds them of Chagall’s work.

Some quotes that Marc Chagall is remembered for include:

Great art picks up where nature ends.

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.

In our life there is a single color, as on an artist palette which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.

Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration.

In the arts, as in life, everything is possible provided it is based on love.

by David Jay Brown

Leonard Cohen Profile

Leonard Cohen Profile

Photo by Graeme Mitchell for The New Yorker

Another brilliant artist of legendary proportions that Carolyn and I both admire is the late Leonard Cohen. Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist, whose emotionally powerful work explored such themes as romance, isolation, sexuality, loss, politics, and death. His husky voice and soulful words have touched the hearts of millions, and he continues to soothe and inspire us with his wildly innovative songs and mesmerizing poetry.

Cohen was a masterful poet; he had 17 collections of poetry published in his lifetime, and he didn’t begin his music career until he was 33. Cohen graduated from McGill University in 1952 and spent some time in graduate school at Columbia University, but he wasn’t happy there; he described his academic experience as “passion without flesh, love without climax.” In 1957 Cohen left school to pursue a career as a poet and novelist; he began working various odd jobs so that he could focus on his creative writing.

Disappointed with his lack of success as a writer, in 1967 Cohen moved to New York City to reinvent himself as a folk music singer-songwriter. He began hanging out with artist Andy Warhol and mixing with his associated creative community. Popular singers such as Judy Collins and Joan Baez started covering some of his songs around this time, translating his poetry into music. After performing at a few folk festivals, Cohen came to the attention of a Columbia Records producer who signed him to a record deal, and his first album was released that same year. Cohen released 14 studio albums and eight live albums during the course of a recording career lasting almost 50 years, and a posthumous album, Thanks for the Dance, was released in 2019.

Cohen was a deeply contemplative man, who sought the advice and guidance of spiritual leaders throughout the world. He spent much of his life as a spiritual seeker, alternating periods of deep study of the Jewish Torah with long retreats at Zen monasteries. He had ancestral roots in religion, and his deep personal sense of spirituality was expressed in his most well-known song, Hallelujah, which was the result of a long and profound spiritual journey; it took him years to write the revered classic, filling notebook after notebook with rejected lyrics.

Cohen ran into financial difficulties later in life due to missing money that his ex-manager had stolen, and in 2008 he embarked on his first world tour in fifteen years. He performed his final time in New Zealand in 2013. Appreciation for Cohen’s songs spans across generations, as he had the ability to reach people of all ages, and although I never saw him perform, Carolyn saw him numerous times, and so did my mom, who is also a great admirer.

Cohen was immensely creative and, in addition to his poetry, prose, and music, he also produced countless sketches, drawings, and lithographs, some of which are collected in his book The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings. Cohen died in 2016, at the age of 82. His legacy is enormous; he is recognized as one of the most influential musicians of our time. His albums have sold millions of copies, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Some quotes that Leonard Cohen is remembered for include:

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.

You look around you and see a world that doesn’t make sense; you raise your fist or you say ‘hallelujah.

Like a bear stumbling into a beehive or a honey cache: I’m stumbling right into it and getting stuck, and it’s delicious and it’s horrible and I’m in it and it’s not very graceful and it’s very awkward and it’s very painful and yet there’s something inevitable about it. — Cohen describes his writing process

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.

Carolyn added:David Campagna and I experienced Leonard at many concerts, with seats right next to his performance. At one point he looked into David’s eyes, which were tearing, smiled his half smile, and fell backwards, his eyes also full of tears.

“Then a few months later, while David was at Mt. Sinai Hospital in LA, Leonard said ‘Hi bro’ I ‘They are just hanging us on.’ Then David brought my book The Divine Kiss to Leonard the next week, while dragging himself across the room attached to a chemo machine. Leonard remarked what an act of passion it was that the book was dedicated in David’s honor. I’m not sure if they saw each other again, but Leonard’s family estate does have that book, thanks to David’s heroism.

by David Jay Brown

Salvador Dali Profile

Salvador Dali Profile

Carolyn and I have appreciated the work of Spanish artist Salvador Dali, who is one of the most recognized surrealist artists in the world.

Salvador Dali was born in 1904 in Figueres, a town close to the French border of Spain. His father was an attorney, who had a strict disciplinary approach to parenting, which was tempered by Dali’s mother, who encouraged her son’s artistic endeavors.

Dali was named after his older brother, who died before he was born, and he was haunted by the thought of his dead brother throughout his life. Dali often referred to him in his writings and art, such as in his painting Portrait of My Dead Brother. When Dali was five years old, he was once standing over the grave of his brother with his parents, and they told him that he was the reincarnation of his brother, and this had a strong psychological impact on him. Dali also had a younger sister, who published a book about him in 1949 called Dali as Seen by His Sister.

In 1916, Dali discovered modern painting while on a vacation with his family and another family, who had an artist among them. Dali began doing charcoal drawings, and he attended the Municipal Drawing School in Figueres. In 1917 Dali’s father organized an exhibition of his art at their home.

In 1918, Dali had his first public exhibition of his drawings at the Municipal Theatre in Figueres. In 1921 Dali was introduced to the art styles of Futurism and Cubism by acquaintances, which had an influence on his work. Futurism aimed to capture the dynamism of the modern world, and Cubism brought multiple perspectives into a single image.

In 1922 Dali moved to Madrid. He studied at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where he drew attention with his eccentric dress and long hair. At the school, Dali became involved with the Madrid avant-garde art group known as Ultra. He was expelled from the school twice, once in 1923 for inciting a student protest, and again in 1926, when he told a panel assessing him that none of them were competent to judge him.

Around this time, Dali made frequent trips to the Prado Museum, which he said was “incontestably the best museum of old paintings in the world.” Every Sunday Dali went to the Prado Museum to study the works of the great masters. Of this period in his life Dali said, “’This was the start of a monk-like period for me, devoted entirely to solitary work: visits to the Prado, where, pencil in hand, I analyzed all of the great masterpieces, studio work, models, research.” Dali began painting during this time, and his work was influenced by Futurist and Cubist styles.

In 1925 Dali had an exhibition of his work in Madrid, along with other artists. Seven of his paintings were done in the Cubist style and four were done in a more realist style. His work was praised by several leading critics, and that same year he also had his first solo exhibition, which met with critical and commercial success. In 1926 Dali traveled to Paris, where he met with Pablo Picasso, whose work he admired and had influenced him.

In 1927 Dali’s work began to become influenced by Surrealism, and this is where he found his calling. Surrealism was a movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. Dali began creating paintings with dreamlike imagery and hallucinatory juxtapositions. After being influenced by his readings of Sigmund Freud, Dali began incorporating sexual imagery and symbolism into his work, which caused controversy and some rejection of his work at the time.

Around this time, Dali grew a neatly trimmed mustache, which became more flamboyant in the years that followed, and this became part of his trademark style and iconic image. Dali become known for his impeccably waxed mustache, which he styled into two thin, upward-pointing curves.

In 1929 Dali collaborated on a short surrealist film called An Andalusian Dog, and he continued with his paintings that explored themes of sexual anxiety and unconscious desires. In 1929 Dali had an exhibition of his work that was described as “the most hallucinatory that has been produced up to now,” and this exhibition was a commercial success.

Dali was deeply in touch with his subconscious and unconscious mind, and he used a variety of methods to induce altered states of consciousness. He was an avid lucid dreamer and practiced techniques to help with becoming awake in his dreams. Dali also experimented with different psychoactive substances, such as cannabis and hashish, and in the 1930s he used the psychedelic drug mescaline, which he believed gave him greater access to his subconscious mind. In response to an interviewer’s question about drugs, Dali famously said, “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs,” and “Take me, I am the drug, take me, I am hallucinogenic.”

In 1931 Dali painted one of his most famous paintings, The Persistence of Memory, which depicts a surrealistic landscape with melting pocket watches. Dali had numerous exhibitions of his work that were met with more commercial and critical success, as his fame as a surrealist painter grew.

In 1934, Dali took his first visit to the United States, where he had exhibitions and he received widespread press coverage. He delivered lectures on surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art and other venues, where he said, “The sole difference between myself and a madman is the fact that I am not mad!”

Dali was theatrical and flamboyant in his presentation to the world. In 1936, while at an exhibition of his work in London, he gave a lecture wearing a deep-sea diving suit and helmet. He arrived carrying a billiard cue and was leading a pair of Russian wolfhounds. Dali said that he just wanted to show that he “was plunging deeply into the human mind.”

In 1938 Dali met Sigmund Freud and he did a sketch of him. As Dali was sketching him, Freud whispered, “That boy looks like a fanatic.” This comment delighted Dali.

In 1939, during the German invasion of France during World War II, Dali fled with his wife Gala to Portugal, and then to New York in 1940, where they stayed for eight years.

In 1941, at a gallery in New York, Dali announced the death of the Surrealist movement and the return of classicism at his exhibition, however, critics didn’t think that there was actually any major change in Dali’s work.

In 1942, Dali’s autobiography The Secret Life of Dali was published, and it was reviewed widely in the New York and London press. In 1948, Dali and his wife moved back to their house in Port Lligat in Spain, where they spent much of their time over the next three decades, although they spent their winters in Paris and New York.

In the late 1940s Dali became introduced to Christian mysticism, and this influenced his artwork— such as his 1949 painting The Madonna of Port Lligat, which shows a surreal Virgin Mary with a floating baby Jesus in her lap. Dali then sought to integrate Christian mysticism with Einsteinian physics in his work. In paintings such as The Christ of Saint John on the Cross and The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory Dalí synthesized Christian iconography with images of material disintegration, that was inspired by nuclear physics.

In 1968, Dali bought a castle in Púbol, Spain for his wife Gala, who would retreat there for weeks at a time, and Dali agreed not to visit her there without written permission. This led to estrangement from his wife, who was his artistic muse and caused Dali to become depressed. Dali’s health began to fail around this time.

In 1980, Dali’s health deteriorated, and he was treated for a number of medical ailments. In 1983, Dali’s last painting, The Swallow’s Tail, was revealed. After this, Dali lost his ability to paint, due to a motor disorder. In 1984 Dali’s depression worsened and he refused food, leading to severe undernourishment. In 1989 Dali died at the age of 84.

Two major museums are devoted to Dalí’s work: the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, and the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dalí’s life and work have had an important influence on pop art, other Surrealists, and many contemporary artists.

In 2003, a previously unreleased animated film that Dali created with Walt Disney in 1945 was released, about a love story between the mythic god of time Chronos and a woman named Dahlia. Dali was portrayed in a film by Robert Pattinson called Little Ashes in 2008, and by Adrien Brody in Midnight in Paris in 2011. The Salvador Dalí Desert in Bolivia and the Dalí Crater on the planet Mercury are named after him.

Some of the quotes that Salvador Dali is known for include:

Have no fear of perfection— you’ll never reach it.

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.

Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy— the joy of being Salvador Dalí— and I ask myself in rapture: What wonderful things is this Salvador Dalí going to accomplish today?

A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.

What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.

One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams.

It is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself.

Everything alters me, but nothing changes me.

by David Jay Brown