May 11 Is a Surprisingly Significant Day in Art History—Here’s Why


If you Google “what happened in history on May 11,” you’ll find a lot of interesting tidbits.

May 11 is the day that Alexander became Emperor of the Byzantine Empire, Christopher Columbus embarked on his final voyage to the Americas, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded. (That’s just for starters.)

But, historical factoids aside, the date “May 11” is a particularly significant day in the art world too.

Amazingly, three major contemporary artists were all born on May 11—Salvador Dalí, Yaacov Agam, and Slava Ilyayev.

Is it a coincidence that three such unique, powerhouse artists all just happened to be born on the exact same day? Or is May 11 a special day for creative, pioneering types?

First, we have Salvador Dalí—born on May 11, 1904.

“Dali: A Man of His Own Time” (2014), Jim Warren

Dalí was possibly the most famous of all the Surrealists. He interacted with so many of the defining creative and cultural figures of the 20th century—Luis Buñuel, Joan Miró, Alfred Hitchcock, Federico García Lorca, Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Walt Disney—and yet Dalí is still best remembered for his audaciously complex artwork. He truly is a legend of his time.

Destino #81 (2007), from the animated short by Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí. Serigraph in color on wove paper.

Next, we have Yaacov Agam—born on May 11, 1928.

Yaacov Agam manipulating his “Beating Heart” sculpture

Agam is one of the founders of the kinetic art movement, a bold form of art that stresses the impact of change and movement. His artwork actually transforms and recontextualizes itself as the viewer moves from place to place. Ever since he exploded onto the art scene with his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1953, Agam has been making art lovers rethink their preconceived notions about art, and we’re all the better for it.

“Rainbow Bright” (2006)


Finally, there’s Slava Ilyayev—born on May 11, 1970.

“Beyond the Ledges of Concrete” (2016)

Ilyayev is one of the most important Israeli artists working today. He is the master of the palette knife. The way he expertly contrasts light and shadow in his oil paintings beautifully evokes the best qualities of Vincent van Gogh and the Impressionists. His thickly-layered compositions almost explode off the canvas, creating a style that is uniquely his own.

“A Stroll Through the Park” (2014)

So, you can remember May 11 as the day Luxembourg gained its independence—which, granted, was a big deal for Luxembourg—OR you can remember May 11 as the day that gave us three of the 20th century’s most memorable artists.

Regardless, on the day in question, we hope you will join us in wishing all three a very well-deserved “Happy Birthday!”


If you’re interested in collecting a work from any of these artists—Dalí, Agam, or Ilyayev—Park West Gallery can help. We have artwork from all three currently available in our collections. To learn more, please contact our gallery consultants during business hours at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or after hours.



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