Salvador Dali was born in 1904 in Figueres, Spain. In his teens, he exhibited his work at home and in the town's municipal theater before leaving for Madrid's Academy of Arts. In his last year there, he was expelled for announcing that none of the faculty was competent to judge his work. After moving to Paris, he befriended Pablo Picasso and Andre Breton, moved in with the woman who would become his wife of nearly 50 years (though she was Paul Eluard's wife when he met her) and began work on the paintings for which became best known, such as "The Persistence of Memory", which he described as "hand-painted dream photographs." Over the course of his career, he also made sculpture, designed jewelry, illustrated books and collaborated with filmmakers such as Bunuel and Hitchcock. The most famous of all the Surrealists, he died in Figueres in 1989.
Rene Magritte was born RenE FranAois-Ghislain Magritte in 1898 in Belgium. In March of 1912, Magritte's mother killed herself by jumping into the river Sambre. The next year, the young artist met his future wife, Georgette Berger; the year after that he enrolled as a pupil at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. In the early 1920s, Magritte served in the military, married Georgette, and worked as a graphic artist, primarily drawing motifs for wallpaper. De Chirico provided a strong early influence. Magritte's first painting, a portrait of singer Evelyne BrElia, was sold in 1923, and his first surrealist work, Le Jockey Perdu, was painted in 1926. His first exhibition was held in 1927; soon thereafter, he and Georgette moved near Paris and began to meet other surrealists like MirU, Eluard and Arp. His relationships with the surrealists onlydeepened over the following years: Magritte published his work in various surrealist journals, vacationed with the DalIs, and exhibited with Edward James. At different points during his mature career, he dramatically changed his painting style, only to return to his original surrealist ways. Magritte died in 1967.
Yves Tanguy was born in Paris in 1900 and started painting in 1923, inspired by the work of Giorgio de Chirico. In 1925 Tanguy met AndrE Breton, and was soon invited to join the Paris Surrealists. From then until the late 1930s, Tanguy participated in numerous Surrealist exhibitions and was the subject of several solo shows, including a show in the US in 1934. In 1939 he moved to New York, and eventually became an American citizen. He died in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1955, and a year later was the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Andre Breton was born in Normandy in 1896, studied psychiatry, and, as a young man during World War I, worked in a mental ward. By 1924 he had begun to think of the mind's dark corners as a source for art, as described in his Surrealist Manifesto, and had started to gather a community of artists, dealers and fellow-travelers around him. He spent several years in the Communist party in the 1920s and 30s, and then left France in dissatisfaction with its Vichy regime in the early 40s. He was back by the middle of the decade however, and lived and worked in Paris as a novelist, artist and provocateur until his death in 1966.
Mark Polizzotti is author of Revolution of the Mind: The Life of AndrE Breton (1995).