Dalí is perhaps best known for work created in his later years, but it is his early years that formed him and his artistic persuasions. He was not only a painter, but also a writer, poet, theorist, editor, sculptor, filmmaker, inventor, philosopher and theatre designer. He began life as an intensely local provincial artist.
His early years were spent in the idyllic Catalan seascapes, his parents’ summer house looked directly on to the sea. In fact, his early paintings focus almost entirely on landscapes from around Figueras and Cadaques, including his family and several self-portraits. His first portraits were completed at the ages of fifteen to seventeen. One can see from his ‘Self Portrait in the Studio’(1919) now in the Salvador Dalí Museum in Florida, he used mirrors to paint himself seated at the easel, with completed canvases hanging around him on the walls. His family members feature heavily in his art during these early years ; he painted his sister on many occasions and also his grandmother. His maternal grandmother came to live with his family in Cadaques in 1910. Dalí’s ‘ Portrait of Grandmother Ana Sewing’ ( 1921) was painted at Cadaques and is one of the most evocative images of Dalí’s domestic life during that period. Dalí found solace and comfort in his older relative’s presence; his grandmother and mother encouraged him artistically both having come from crafting backgrounds.
In 1921, Dalí enrolls in the San Fernando School of Fine Arts in Madrid; where he meets the Spanish poet Garcia Lorca, and film maker Luis Buñel, with whom he will later make the film Un Chien Andalou (A Dog from Andalucia) in 1929.Like many other artists he rebelled against authority and was expelled from art school, after only a year. From then onwards his life took a path that would lead him to garner international notoriety and worldwide fame.