Dalí – Freud

An Obsession

Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud: one man's art, another man's theories. The theories of Freud clearly fascinated Dalí, perhaps to the point of obsession – his greatest desire was to someday meet his idol. He made multiple unsuccessful attempts at contact, including a trip to Vienna in April 1937 that also failed to produce an introduction. Finally, at the urging of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig and the poet Edward James, Freud agreed to a meeting in London in July 1938. This comprehensive exhibition illustrates the obsession for the psychoanalytical in the work of the Surrealists, particularly as it is present in Dali's surrealist pictorial world.


Curated by Jaime Brihuega.




This exhibition is only open to visitors over the age of 16.

For your visit to the exhibition Dalí–Freud. An Obsession, you will receive a time ticket at peak-times on site in addition to your admission ticket*.
*set time for your admission to the exhibition, duration of your stay is unlimited, on weekends there may be delays!

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In cooperation with

The Exhibition

In London in 1938 Salvador Dalí finally met Sigmund Freud, who had recently fled Vienna – the first and only meeting between the artist and his idol. Unfortunately, however, Dalí's ambitious wish to garner Freud's endorsement for his Paranoiac Critical method remained unfulfilled. Yet the founder of psychoanalysis was subsequently much more impressed than he had expected to be, and came to reconsider his earlier ambivalence towards Surrealism.

The Belvedere is showcasing – with over 100 pieces including paintings, surrealist objects, photographs, films, books, journals, letters, and other documents – Dalí's unique personality against the backdrop of his complex family and follows him from his discovery of Freud's writings to his meeting with the psychoanalyst in exile in London on 19 July 1938.

For the young artist, reading the Interpretation of Dreams became one of the most significant discoveries of his life. In Freud's writings Dalí found the key to hidden fears, desires, and obsessions. This led him to explore the poetics of Surrealism in 1926 and to develop a new visual language that remains, to this day, unique to his work.  Dalí’s meeting in London was his only in-person encounter with the Viennese psychoanalyst. The exhibition also relates the artist's seminal encounters with the poet Federico García Lorca and the filmmaker Luis Buñuel, as well as his time at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid. Along with the drawings of nervous tissues by the histologist and Nobel Prize–winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal, they were Dalí's principal inspirations for his Surrealist work.

The part of the show that focuses on the artist's family background highlights how Dalí’s intense psychoanalytical exploration of his complex adolescence shaped his paintings.

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Dalí – Freud. An Obsession (Part 1)

Dalí – Freud. An Obsession (Part 2)

Dalí – Freud. An Obsession (Part 3)

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Salvador Dalí

1904 Figueres – † 1989 Figueres



Born on May 11 in Figueres, as the son of the notary Salvador Dalí Cusí and his wife, Felipa Domènech Ferrés.


Birth of his only sister Anna María.


His mother dies.


In Madrid he attends the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and lives at the Residencia de Estudiantes.


Dalí discovers the writings of Sigmund Freud.


Moves to Paris and joins the group of Surrealists. Dalí meets Gala. Breaks with his family.


Publishes the essay "Paranoiac-critical interpretation of the obsessive image of Millet’s ‘Angelus’" in the first issue of the magazine Minotaure.


Marries Gala. First trip to the United States.


Reconciles with his family.


From April Dalí and Gala spend some time in Austria. In Vienna, Dalí attempts unsuccessfully to visit Freud.


On July 19, Dalí meets Freud in London, in presence of Stefan Zweig and Edward James.


Dalí’s strictly Freudian period comes to an end.

Sigmund Freud

1856 Freiberg [Příbor] – † 1939 London



Freud is born on May 6, as the son of the Jewish textile merchant Jacob Freud and his Jewish wife Amalia (née Nathanson).


The family moves to Vienna.


Studies at the medical faculty of the University of Vienna, where he qualififies as a Doctor of Medicine.


Habilitation and appointed docent in neuropathology at the University of Vienna.


Habilitation and appointed docent in neuropathology at the University of Vienna.


Moves to Berggasse 19.


The Interpretation of Dreams is published. Freud thereby establishes the methodology and fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis.


Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva is published.


André Breton visits Sigmund Freud in Vienna


Freud’s collected works are published in Spanish by the Madrid based publisher Biblioteca Nueva. The Interpretation of Dreams is published in 1923.


Freud is diagnosed with mouth cancer.


After the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany, Freud flflees into exile in London via Paris on June 4.


On July 19, a meeting takes place between Dalí and Freud at Freud’s first address in London, 39 Elsworthy Road.


Sigmund Freud dies on September 23 in London.

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