Dali & Surrealism Then and Now

This article will explore the surrealist work of Salvador Dali and also showcase some modern surrealist art. There are also links to some outstanding surreal photo manipulation tutorials.

Dali & Surrealism

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was born in Figueres, Spain in 1904. He studied at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. Dali already drew attention as an eccentric and dandy man. He wore his hair long with sideburns, coat, stockings and knee breeches in the style of English aesthetes of the late 19th century.

His early art was very much realistic – and he was very good at it.

Figure at a Window 1925

Figure at a Window

The Bread Basket 1926

The Bread Basket

Dali helped found the surrealism movement, but was eventually expelled from the group as he flouted too many rules. Dali maintained: ‘I myself am surrealism’ and continued throughout his life to shock with both his art and his appearance. Dali could not fit into the surrealism movement as his political and religious views did not waiver, and were not those defined by the movement. Dali died from a heart attack in 1989.

The Persistence of Memory 1931

The Persistence of Memory

Dali’s influence on the art world is still very much in evidence today. He was maybe amongst the first to shock and rock the world, but definitely not the last. We have since seen the shock of Elvis Presley, Punk Rock and Eminem – to name but a few. Each generation thinks their shocker is and always will be the greatest!



So what did we learn from Dali’s art and the art of the surrealist movement?

It is an expansion of the mind, thinking outside of the box – putting things together that should not go together, or making an image of dream-like qualities. Proportion and perspective can be totally wrong in surreal art, probably the more so the better.

Here is the definition of ‘surreal’ according to the Cambridge Dictionary Online

Surreal definition

Surreal is the juxtaposition of real, therefore the further away from reality, the more surreal the image is.

In this article I am only discussing surreal art, although surrealism can be seen in modes of dress, ceramics, furniture design, writing, etc.

Read more about the life, times and work of Salvador Dali here

Read more about the Surrealism Movement here

The Art of Salvador Dali

Here are some of Dali’s better known surreal works:

All images from Google Images

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans 1935

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans

Metamorphosis of Narcissus 1937

Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Sleep 1937


Swans Reflecting Elephants 1937

Swans Reflecting Elephants

Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man 1943

Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man

Galatea of the Spheres 1952

Galatea of the Spheres

Still Life Moving Fast 1956

Still Life Moving Fast

Surrealism Then and Now

Surrealism is a cultural movement which saw it’s golden years during the1930s.  It continues today with numerous groups around the world.

L’Ange du Foyeur by Max Ernst 1937

L'Ange du Foyeur

Here are some examples of modern surrealism (clicking on any image will take you to the page of origin):

Don’t slam the door by Jacek Yerka

Don't slam the door

Chess king by adnrey

Chess king

Chocolatopia by norbi


African Bread Hut by Onanymous

African Bread Hut

Nirvana by Sidiuss


It camouflaged reality by theflickerees

It camouflaged reality

Just Plain Hooked by ChrissieCool

Just Plain Hooked

Surreal by rustymermaid


Surreal Machine by tk-link

Surreal Machine

Boy taking a rest by Simon Pais

Boy taking a rest

longing for freedom by AlicePopkorn

longing for freedom

Next Dimension by h.koppdelaney

Next Dimension

Nereid by Jerico Santander


Cadbury-Bournville (2009) by Natalie Shau

Cadbury-Bournville 2009

Surreal in Mind by Michael Vincent Manalo

Surreal in Mind

Making Off: My Second Reality by Artur Neufeld and Marian Rupp

Making Off: My Second Reality

Surreal America by Tiago Hoisel

Surreal America

Freedom by cazcastalla



Would you like to learn how create a surreal photomanipulation? Here are some great tutorials to set you on your way (click on the image to view the tutorial):

Photo Manipulate a Surreal Space-Age Landscape from PSDFanExtra

Photo Manipulate a Surreal Space-Age Landscape

Create a Dramatic and Surreal illustration in Photoshop CS5 from Adobe Tutorials

Create a Dramatic and Surreal illustration in Photoshop CS5

Maze in my Mind from Photoshop Tutorials

Maze in my Mind

Surrealistic Room Photo Manipulation from Photoshop Tutorials

Note: The link to the Wave brushes by AnaRasha does not work, but they are available here

Surrealistic Room Photo Manipulation

Create a Face Shattering Effect from 10Steps.SG

Create a Face Shattering Effect


There is usually a message conveyed or trying to be conveyed in surrealist art, be it emotional, religious or political. Sometimes the message is clear from either the art or the title, other times it is not apparent, and of course, there are those exceptions where there is no message, the artist has just had some ‘out of the box’ inspiration.

I hope you have enjoyed the information in this article – it is very abridged, there is far more information available on all subjects: Salvador Dali, Surrealism, Surreal Photoshop Tutorials.

Don’t be afraid to try out the tutorials – Dali himself said:


Do you like surrealistic art and/or the art of Salvador Dali? Is there another art movement that inspires and motivates you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


I love using and learning Photoshop, and I also enjoy creating resources to share with the world. I am at my happiest when I have free time to further explore all that Photoshop has to offer and learn more about its powerful built-in tools. I hope people enjoy either using or learning from my free resources, and welcome any hints and tips - and of course, if you would like to offer a free resource on this site, please don't hesitate to contact me (top right of the page).


Barbara moustafa

about 7 years ago

Awesome feature, thank you for including my art especially alongside Dali!



about 7 years ago

You're very welcome


Jason Loki Athen

about 6 years ago

I love this type of art! It really set's my mind racing. Even though I love all of them my favourite is the boat trapped in the room of clouded walls. I think it's photoshop but not sure. Jason Loki Athen http://www.JasonAthen.com http://www.facebook.com/AthingtonStudios http://twitter.com/#!/JasonAthen


Jason Loki Athen

about 6 years ago

I did these paintings years ago. They all have 3-D plastic pieces in each one. Jason Loki Athen http://www.JasonAthen.com http://www.facebook.com/AthingtonStudios http://twitter.com/#!/JasonAthen


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