Surrealist painter Salvador Dali, whose fantastic and memorable dreamscapes were as eccentric and flamboyant as his behavior, died Monday in his hometown, his doctor said. He was 84.
Dali died at 10:15 a.m. at Figueras Hospital, said Dr. Charles Ponsati. "The cause of death was cardiac arrest brought on by his respiratory insufficiency and pneumonia," he told reporters.The painter had been in poor health and confined to a wheelchair since suffering severe burns in an electrical fire in his home in August 1984.
He was rushed to the hospital five days ago from his home. Suffering from a bad heart, Dali had been hospitalized three times since late November.
A founder of the surrealist movement, Dali, born on May 11, 1904, in this small Catalonian town, was the last of an outstanding generation of Spanish painters that included Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
His "Persistence of Memory" - with its melting clocks and barren landscape - is perhaps the world's most celebrated Surrealist painting: a vivid image that became an indelible part of 20th century culture.
"The Divine Dali," as he liked to call himself, also was instantly recognizable: his pointed, waxed mustache curling up like a bull's horns, his long hair falling over his neck and one of his more than 30 walking sticks draped over an arm.
What Dali called his "sublime craziness," began early - he was expelled from art school in 1926 for arrogance and briefly jailed for Catalonian separatist political activities. He said later, "The only difference between a crazy person and me is the fact that I am not crazy."
Few critics faulted Dali's technical virtuosity, although his work was not held in the highest esteem. But he was overwhelmingly popular: in 1979 and 1980, a major retrospective - 168 paintings, 219 drawings, 38 objects and 2,000 documents - drew more than a million visitors in Paris. The exhibit later moved to London, where it was seen by 250,000 people.
In addition to being a painter, Dali was a decorator, a fashion and jewelry designer and an author of poetry, prose and essays.