Salvador Dali was born in Spain in 1904. In Paris, he adoped first Impressionism, then Pointilism, and eventually Futurism. Following these forays into contemporary "isms" of the day, he returned to Madrid where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts. There he found his own personal style of illusionistic realism that he never abandoned. In 1931, he painted what was probably his most famous and familiar work, The Persistance of Memory. Characterized by his trademark limp watches, I now have a necktie with a portion of that painting emblazoned upon it. At school, I'm a walking art history lesson.
No mention of Dali would be complete without mentioning his other trademark, his amusing little handlebar moustache. Equally amusing and much more outrageous was his personal behavior, often as little more than a means of garnering attention for himself and his work. Live, on TV's Ed Sullivan Show back in the 1950's, perhaps trying to outdo Jackson Pollock, he once threw open buckets of paint at a large canvas. He loved rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, of whom he sometimes painted surrealist portraits. His portrait of Mae West, for instance, comprises a stage set with a couch for a mouth, curtains drawn back for hair, and numerous architectural elements for the facial features. Despite it's unconventional makeup, the likeness is unmistakable. Dali died in 1986 following a fire in which he was badly burned. He was 82.