Background to Salvador Dali's last words
Salvador Dali's full name on his death was Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Dalí de Púbol. He was a notable figure in the history of surrealist art and 20th-century art in general. Opinions of him as an artist and as a man are inevitably skewed by his unusual behavior and lifestyle, which were as out of the ordinary as his artworks, and also by his apparent support of the Fascist General Franco.
He was rejected by his father, following his bizarre lifestyle and pronouncements and after taking up with a married Russian woman much older than himself - Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, better known as Gala. As his life progressed, Dali, although a hugely successful painter and sculptor and an international celebrity, became increasingly strange in his behaviour and increasingly dependent on his then wife and muse Gala. He is quoted as saying:
Without Gala, divine Dali would be insane.
Actually, many people thought he was. Opinions on Dali are divided. Some see him as a harmless but eccentric showman, others as a madman, others again as a profound creative artist. Dali himself denied the often applied description of 'eccentric'. In a TV interview in the 1960s, when asked if he considered himself to be eccentric, he said:
No! Dali iss no ecc-centric. Dali iss CON-CENTRIC!
A rather eccentric response, if there ever was one.
In the 1980s, towards the end of his life, Dali did become clearly deranged. Gala had become senile and is thought to have been been dosing the artist with unprescribed medication. After Gala's death in 1980, Dali went downhill rather quickly. He had several accidents and illnesses which may well have been self-inflicted and/or suicide attempts.
Dali died of heart failure on 23rd January 1989, at his home town of Figueres, a short walk from where he was born.