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King of Spades

King of Spades, 1971, Lithograph
Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904 – 1989)

The flamboyant Spanish artist and impresario Salvador Dali shaped the development of 20th century Surrealism. Dali studied painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, however his rebellious behavior eventually led to expulsion. Despite his dismissal, Dali soon after won critical recognition. Dali became deeply influenced by Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Beginning in the late 1920s, Dali’s painting took on imagery and forms relating to the subconscious. Dali often employed optical illusion to convey double meaning. For example, in Dali’s famous 1937 painting Swans Reflecting Elephants, the reflections of swans on a lake produce the illusion of elephants.

An artist of diverse talents, Salvador Dali’s work extends beyond painting to printmaking, sculpture, and film. Dali executed prints in drypoint, etching, woodcut, and lithography. Created in the latter decades of Dali’s life, the Playing Card Suite incorporates motifs found in Dali’s earlier paintings. Each card is a collage of forms and symbols drawn from Dali’s vast oeuvre.