A Photographic Tour of Salvador Dali at Work

Le peintre Salvador Dali peignant dans son atelier, circa 1970, en Espagne. (Photo by Etienne MONTES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

By Paul Chimera

Salvador Dali Historian

 

I know that many of my fellow Salvador Dali enthusiasts/aficionados/collectors/fans/scholars/historians – call us what you will – are as fascinated by Dali the man as by Dali the artist.

 

What we mean, of course, is that we love the Dali persona: the antics, the surrealist happenings, the public flamboyance, the relentless egocentricity. It made Dali Dali.

 

And while we love the fruits of Dali’s tireless efforts when he was off-camera and at the easel, we’re also intrigued by images of the Master in the very act itself of painting, or creating prints, drawings, watercolors, or sculpture.

 

So today I’m sharing a mélange of photographs of Salvador Dali doing what he did best: creating. Whether at the easel, or working plein air, or otherwise making artistic magic.

 

Dali works on a large stage set design, his suit protected by a smock.

Dali works on a large stage set design, his suit and tie protected by a smock.

 

Dali similarly clothed as he paints a large image of friend and model Amanda Lear.

Dali similarly clothed as he paints a large image of friend and model Amanda Lear.

 

Dali virtually always used a maul stick to steady his hand -- here as he works on Discovery of America.

Dali virtually always used a maul stick to steady his hand — here as he works on Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.

 

Dali painting the controversial portrait of Franco's granddaughter.

Dali painting the controversial portrait of Franco’s granddaughter.

 

Dali's favorite model was his wife and muse, Gala.

Dali’s favorite model was his wife and muse, Gala.

 

Al fresco painting among the rocks of Port Lligat, as Gala reads -- perhaps aloud to her husband.

Al fresco painting among the rocks of Port Lligat, as Gala reads — perhaps aloud to her husband.

 

Gala and others watch as the Maestro paints Christ of Valles.

Gala and others watch as the Maestro paints Christ of Valles.

 

Dali had a moveable, electronic easel system, allowing huge canvases like Battle of Tetuan to be raised and lowered so he could paint at eye-level.

Dali had a moveable, electronic easel system, allowing huge canvases like Battle of Tetuan to be raised and lowered so he could paint at eye-level.

 

Dali famously began a dematerialization of Vermeer's Lacemaker while seated at a rhinoceros cage in a French zoo.

Dali famously began a dematerialization of Vermeer’s Lacemaker while seated at a rhinoceros cage in a French zoo.

 

Here are three ultra-serious poses, as Salvador Dali — away from the cameras and reporters’ notebooks — carefully creates another masterpiece (although, in the third picture, someone is crouching down for a snap or two of the master at work). . .

 

Le peintre Salvador Dali peignant dans son atelier, circa 1970, en Espagne. (Photo by Etienne MONTES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

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Another view of the Master carefully painting one of his ingenious stereoscopic pictures.

Another view of the Master carefully painting one of his ingenious stereoscopic pictures.

 

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Dali working outside, during two vastly different periods in his long and prolific career.

 

Painting a child's room aboard an ocean liner, and comfortably sketching at home in Spain.

Painting a child’s room aboard an ocean liner (above) and comfortably sketching at home in Spain (below).

 

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Dali worked in every medium and style . . .

 

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Whether dressed in a brocade vest, a painter’s smock, or casual attire, Salvador Dali wielded a paint brush like no one else. A picture is worth a thousand words, as it’s said, so I hope you enjoyed today’s pictorial tour of the great one at work, making artistic magic.

 

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[Images gratefully used under Fair Use provisions for journalistic purposes only]

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