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Salvador Dalí was born Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech in the Catalan town of Figueras, Spain, on May 11, 1904. In 1921 he enrolled in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, where he became a friend of Federico García Lorca and Luis Buñuel. His first solo show was held in 1925 at the Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona. In 1926 Dalí was expelled from the Academia and the following year he visited Paris and met Pablo Picasso. He collaborated with Buñuel on the film Un Chien andalou in 1929. During the same year he returned to Paris and met Tristan Tzara and Paul Eluard. About this time Dalí produced his first Surrealist publications and illustrated the works of Surrealist writers and poets.
His first solo show in the United States took place at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1933. Dalí was censored for his political ideas by the Surrealists in 1934. Toward the end of the decade he made several trips to Italy to study the art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1940 Dalí fled to the United States, where he worked on theatrical productions, wrote, illustrated books, painted, and was considered from audience and media as one of the most representative artists of the European art scene. A major retrospective of his work opened in 1941 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and traveled throughout the United States. In 1942 Dalí published his autobiography, The secret life of Salvador Dalí, and began exhibiting at M. Knoedler and Co. in New York. He returned to Europe in 1948, settling in Port Lligat, Spain. His first paintings with religious subjects date from 1948–49. In 1954 a Dalí retrospective was held at the Palazzo Pallavicini in Rome and in 1964 an important retrospective of his work was shown in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kyoto.
He continued painting, writing, and illustrating during the 1960s. The Salvador Dalí Museum in Cleveland was inaugurated in 1971 (moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1982), and the Dalinian Holographic Room opened at M. Knoedler and Co., New York, in 1973. In 1980 a major Dalí retrospective was held at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, in Paris, and his work was exhibited at the Tate Gallery, London. The artist died on January 23, 1989, in Figueras.