Salvador Dali was born in 1904 in Figueras, Spain. He was the third Salvador Dali, for his father was named Salvador and so was his older brother who had died 9 months before Dali was born. Because of the coincidental dates that marked the death of one child and the birth of the next falling on the same date, his parents believed that their second son was actually a reincarnation of the first. Due to this, the "ghostly" memory of his lost sibling was to haunt him for the rest of his life. Dali took on a unique and conspicuous personality. He felt as though he was forced to live both as himself and his dead brother, which caused him to have a particular obsession with decay and petrification.

Dali had an amazing, almost innate, talent in art; by the age of 10 he began painting but it was at the age of 13 when he began making more notable works.

Dali was a scholarly and overwhelmingly brilliant academician also. The beginning of his formal training began under Juan Nunez at the Municipal Drawing School. Dali's father arranged the first of his sons exhibitions in 1917. This was only to be a small exhibition of his charcoal drawings within their own apartment. In 1918 the city of Figueres presents 2 exhibitions of Dali's works. Once again, it was Dali's father who arranged the exhibition, which was held in the upper foyer of the Theatro Municipal (now converted into the Theatro Museo Dali). It is this year that he also begins to experiment with impressionism and pointalism. Dali's mother died in 1912, at which time Dali considered himself an impressionist painter. This was a difficult time for the aspiring the young artist and adding to his struggle with the loss of his mother, his father married his deceased wife's sister.

In 1922 Dali was accepted into a special school for painting, sculpture, and engraving known as the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. He exhibits his paintings in a student art show at the Dalmau gallery in Barcelona. A year later, Dali was suspended from the academy for criticizing his lecturers and inciting a student rebellion. At the age of 18, Dali had become a member of the young elite, an emerging group of intellectuals. In 1923, Dali first started to experiment with cubism. He became a leader of an avant-garde group of young Spanish intellectuals. He has his first one man show in the same year at the Dalmau Gallery.

In 1926 Dali takes his first trip to Brussels and Paris where he visits Picasso and Miro. He also has his second one man show at the Dalamu Gallery and is expelled from the San Fernando Academy due to his refusal to take the oral exams. He felt that he knew more than his examiners on the subject of Raphael. Far from discouraged, Dali was determined to be one of the greatest painters of all time. In 1928 Dali does theater designs for Mariana Pineda and he works regularly with the journal, L'Aime de les Arts. Miro visits Dali and encourages him to establish himself in Paris. Shortly after, Dali takes his second trip to Paris and Miro introduces him to the Dadaists and Surrealists groups.

In 1929 he meets his future wife, Gala Eluard in Cadaques. This same year he has his first one man show in Paris at Goeman's Gallery. Dali embraced the ideas of surrealism but in a way unique to him. In the early 1930's Dali expands on his paranoiac critical process of thought and in 1933 the Julian Levey Gallery organizes Dali's first one-man show in the United States, in New York.