The artist excelled in a multitude of mediums, most famously painting, sculpture and drawing. There were also some notable lithographs and etchings which underlined the artist's skills as a draughtsman. This website draws together much of his finest work and organises it by medium. Our homepage provides a summary of some of the highlights of his surrealist work, with much more detail to be found around the rest of the website. In the early parts of his career, Dali moved to Paris which was a melting pot of artistic talent in the 1920s. Paris life brought Dali into contact with the likes of Joan Miro, Rene Magritte and Pablo Picasso. They were to influences the future direction of each other and this sharing of ideas continued in the French capital for many decades afterwards. Another notable artist related to Dali would be German Surrealist, Max Ernst.

Soon after these experiences, artist Dali was to move into his surrealist style which was to gift the world artistic classics such as The Persistence of Memory, The Elephants, The Disintegration Of The Persistence Of Memory and Soft Watch At The Moment Of First Explosion. From then on, Dali was to lead a productive and creative career which also touched on other elements of society including politics, fame and fortune. Those looking to learn more about his life should check out our detailed Salvador Dali biography. Beyond the art, Dali was an incredible character, eccentric and extrovert in the extreme. The Surrealist art movement needed strong personalities to take this modern art form into the mainstream, and Salvador was ideal for this.

Previous to his Surrealist work, Salvador Dali also produced Cubist and Futurist paintings. As his career progressed, Dali also went well beyond oil painting, taking in sculpture and drawing plus many other art mediums. Dali's connections to Surrealism, Futurism and Cubism should not distract from the traditional nature of Dali's techniques and themes. Dali regularly underlined his respect for and influence from the likes of Michelangelo, Vermeer and Raphael, as well as several other significant masters. The way in which this artist captured surfaces in his paintings resembles that of famous Flemish painters like van Eyck. The themes used by Dali include religious and mythical topics and these have inspired artists all the way back to the Renaissance.

This ambitious and adaptable artist would also find success within the disciplines of photography, film, jewellery and furniture too.

The Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory combines the dream-like imagination of artist Dali along with the Catalonian scenery which connects with his early life. Clocks melting like cheese are a symbol that even a fleeting art fan can link to the work of this famous Surrealist. In order to produce such creativity, Salvador would use psychological methods to enter a deep, meditative state then would then allow him to access the more eccentric areas of his mind. This painting, The Persistence of Memory, and the items included with in it offer the key elements of the Surrealist work produced by Dali, and it was in that art movement in which he made the most significant impact. The artist used some bold colours in this painting which really lift the surrealist style into a impactful piece of art. This colour scheme was continued into several other paintings in Dali's Surrealist periods. The melting clock found on the left hand side of this composition are items that he re-used on many occasions and are amongst the themes which we naturally relate to this artist's work.

The Elephants

This artwork is amongst the artist's most famous. The overpowering red sky that slowly gradients into the golden sand at the foot of the composition immediately brings warmth to your eyes. There are then the elephants are their impossibly elongated legs who stroll in slowly from either side of the canvas. This is about as surreal as it gets, even before we spot the obelisks upon their backs. Dali may have loved elements of science teaching, but he also liked to display the impossible within his dreamlike worlds. In terms of detail, this is perhaps one of his simplest artworks and that gives an atmosphere of calm when combined with the presumably slow movement of these huge, graceful creatures. In order to portray a sense of relative size, there are also a couple of figures on the sand in the background and perhaps a small building furthest in the distance. This particular artwork remains one of Dali's most reproduced images and is particularly sought after as a print.

The Disintegration of The Persistence Of Memory

This artwork continues Dali's consistent use of certain themes, such as the melting clocks as well as the desert-like landscape which was probably based on the region of Spain in which he grew up. Catalan art in general has always been about warm colour schemes and Dali helped to strengthen this signature style with his own surrealist work. Additionally to all of that, we also find an extraordinary matrix of cubes with Disintegration of The Persistence Of Memory that feels more like a mathematical experiment than a traditional oil painting. It is as if his local landscape has been transformed into a squared environment from a science-fiction film. There are also a series of sharp objects, akin to bullets, flying through the air. The composition therefore requires a knowledge about the artist in order to decipher some of this visual content confidently.

Rose Meditative

Rose Meditative features an overpowering rose, symbolising the powerful love between the couple found at the bottom of the canvas. Dali continues to bright Catalonian-inspired landscape here, though it sits quietly in the background as the rose takes the viewer's eye. It was in this region that Dali would live and work for much of his life, and these bright colours can be seen frequently throughout his surrealist work. The region has given us some of the finest modern artists in history, most famously Dali, Miro and architect Gaudi. Dali himself would often focus in on one single element within his paintings and then use the rest of the canvas as a supporting feature, and Rose Meditative is a great example of that. The Surrealist movement would vary the subtleties with which they delivered their symbolic messages and in this case it is clear for all to see, regardless of one's prior knowledge of the artist or his continued use of a set of symbols across different artworks.

Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate

This painting features a powerful and personal atmosphere, including the artist's wife, Gala. She lies down, and looks vulnerable as elements of her husband's dreamlike world descend on her. They were living together in the United States at the time of this painting, having fleed the atrocities and instability of WWII which impacted their native Europe most seriously. From a pomegranate comes a fish, and from that come two ferocious tigers who immediately head for this young woman who appears to be sleeping and perhaps this is merely a visual display of her own dream. When one views paintings such as Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate, it is easy to see how the Surrealists could be so hard for the occasional art follower to comprehend. Across the background, we again see an elephant with obelisk as used by the artist so many times, and a major element to his brand that continued across multiple mediums.

The Temptation of St Anthony

The Temptation of St Anthony repeats several surrealist symbols found frequently in Dali's work. Horses and elephants carry various items which are to tempt St Anthony, as part of a themed competition in New York. Bernini's obelisks again appear here, balanced in an unrealistically way on elongated elephants, underlining the surrealist approach used here by the artist. Dali was someone who frequently day dreamed, especially as a child, and paintings such as The Temptation of St Anthony allow us a glimpse into his dream-like world. This style of art tends to polarise opinion, but no-one can ever question this artist's technical abilities which started in drawing, progressed to oil painting and continued into a number of other disciplines such as jewellery, furniture, sculpture and film. Some of the element found in this particular artwork were then re-worked into other mediums, as part of his brand.

Soft Watch At The Moment Of First Explosion

Person at the Window

Hallucinogenic Toreador

Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized By Her Own Chastity

It is hard to forget this controversial image once you have seen it for the first time. Dali was always a lover of the female body and would use it in many of his paintings. Whilst Gala, his wife, would feature in a number of his best known works, other models would be used on occasion. The portrait is actually of his sister, with this composition being an aggressive and spiteful attack upon her as revenge for a publication that she made about her brother's life. Salvador was loyal, up to a point, but when wronged he did have a fierce temper which led to his decision to attempt to humiliate her via this painting. It is almost as if an angry child has suddenly acquired some incredible technical skills and put it straight onto a canvas. Whilst brutal in its treatment of his sister, it does provide us with an exciting and thought provoking piece that must be considered as one of the most famous surrealist paintings in history. Ultimately, Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized By Her Own Chastity tells us more about the personality of Salvador Dali than almost any other artworks from his long and distinguished career.

List of Famous Salvador Dali Paintings

The list below summarises some of the highlights from Dali's extensive career, concentrating solely on his paintings. This website also contains considerable information on all the other mediums in which he was involved and provides a biographical study of his life and career. From the many thousands of artworks that he produced during his lifetime, we have attempted to summarise it into around one to two hundred of his most impressive and artistically significant contributions and each one is discussed in considerable detail. There are also a number of articles which address other elements and themes within his life, such as his relationships with friends, family and other artists. Finally, we have also collated a number of quotes and facts from his lifetime in order to illustrate the type of character that he was, as well as accompanying that with opinions on his achievements from related figures.

  • The Persistence of Memory
  • The Elephants
  • The Disintegration Of The Persistence Of Memory
  • Rose Meditative
  • Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate
  • The Temptation Of St Anthony
  • Soft Watch At The Moment Of First Explosion
  • Person at the Window
  • Hallucinogenic Toreador
  • Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized By Her Own Chastity
  • Swans Reflecting Elephants
  • Landscape with Butterflies
  • Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea
  • Head Exploding
  • Metamorphosis of Narcissus
  • Galatea of the Spheres
  • Crucifixion
  • Sleep