8 Surreal Quotes By Salvador Dalí, on His 112th Birthday

The bombastic artist was born on May 11, 1904.

Portrait of Spanish artist Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989) with his cane, 1960s. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí would have turned 112 years old today.

The bombastic artist was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain, where he also died. After 84 years of traveling, creating, and collaborating, he returned to his hometown, passing away in 1989 of heart failure.

Dalí was controversial, eccentric, and considered himself to be the greatest artist of his time. In this, he was not wrong, since he is responsible for some of the most influential artworks of the past century, including Persistence of Memory (1931), and his painting of poet, Paul Éluard, which sold for $22.4 million in 2011, making it the world’s most expensive surrealist painting sold at auction, according to Bloomberg.

In Dalí’s early years as an artist he visited Paris frequently, where he met Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, and Joan Miró. In his work, Dalí painted sublime dreamscapes, painting in styles influenced by his favorite painters, Johannes Vermeer and Diego Velázquez, who also inspired his trademark mustache.

Dalí’s surrealist sensibilities were not bound to his canvas, however. He created films, clothing, and stage sets that were inspired by the unconscious mind, and often spoke in third person.

In celebration of his birthday, artnet News rounded up eight quotes by the surrealist master on his life and work.

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

On Surrealism:
I have always claimed and still claim that the ideas of surrealism will work only when they are painted to perfection and in a traditional manner.”

On death:
“[I] believe in general death but in the death of  Dalí absolutely not. [I] believe in my death becoming almost impossible.”

On painting:
“Paintings is only one of the means of my expression of my total genius, which exists when I write and when I live, when in some way or other I manifest my magic. A painting is such a minor thing compared to the magic I radiate.”

On sleeping:
“This is very important because [I] work constantly in the moment of sleep. [All of my] best ideas [come] through my dreams.”

On his favorite color: 
“Naples yellow, because it’s the color of proteins as well as the dominant color in certain chemical mixtures of cardinal importance for painting. After Naples yellow, I’m most strongly drawn to the color of oxygen, that is to say blue. In Vermeer, those are the two colors one finds most permanently.”

On reproductions:
“I always encourage people to reproduce my paintings because I find the reproductions much better than the originals.”


Salvador Dali, 'Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War' (1936). Image: WikiArt.

Salvador Dali, ‘Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War’ (1936).
Image: WikiArt.

On his contemporaries that he admired:
“First Dalí, after Dalí, Picasso, after this, no others.”

On humility:
“I am antipodes of myself: alternately humble and convinced of my regal superiority.”

On himself:
“Modesty is not my specialty. Dalí is only good because the other painters are so bad.”

Salvador Dalí, Napaleon's Nose, Transformed into a Pregnant Woman, Strolling His Shadow with Melancholia amongst Original Ruins (1945)Photo: © Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation 2015

Salvador Dalí, Napaleon’s Nose, Transformed into a Pregnant Woman, Strolling His Shadow with Melancholia amongst Original Ruins (1945)
Photo: © Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation 2015

On tradition:
“Tradition brings something original, but we mustn’t forget that is also drags along a lot of dust. The penalty for taking over habits is to find one self a prisoner of false academicism and ossified values. At that point. it’s healthier to just as it’s healthier to kick traditions in the behind simply to shake a bit of the dust off.”

On life: 
“I enjoy my life every day, [more] every week, because of Sir Dalí and my admiration for Dalí is becoming tremendous.”

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