Born in 1904 in Figueres, Spain, Salvador Dalí moved to Madrid in the early 1920s, studying at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. He did not complete his studies, instead moving to Paris, where he took up with fellow Spanish artists Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso as well as the Belgian artist René Magritte. His works from these years show an early engagement with the fantastical and dream-like Surrealist images that would define his career.
The pinnacle of Dalí’s artistic development came in 1931 with his painting The Persistence of Memory, its melting clocks in a desert landscape numbering among the most recognizable images in the history of art. The artist met his future wife, Gala in Paris in 1929 through the artist Paul Elúard, to whom she was married at the time. The Dalís wed in 1934 and Gala would serve as both his muse and manager for the rest of their married lives.
Dalí was famed for his flamboyant behavior and his distinctive upturned moustache. His outlandish behavior often drew popular attention (he was photographed parading around with an anteater on a leash), occasionally overshadowing his artistic output. Though the prolific artist is primarily remembered for his painting he experimented with sculpture, printmaking, fashion and perhaps most notable were his forays into filmmaking in collaboration with Luis Buñuel and Alfred Hitchcock. The artist died in his native city of Figueres at age 85 in 1989.
Among the most prolific artists of the 20th century, Dalí achieved both commercial and critical success in his lifetime. There are several museums devoted entirely to his works, including the Dalí Theatre and Museum, Figueres, Spain; the Salvador Dalí House Museum, Cadaqués, Spain; and the Salvador Dalí Museum, St Petersburg, Florida. Additionally, he is represented in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His powerful, visionary images continue to perform well at auction. According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average compound annual return for Salvador Dalí resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 7.3%. A remarkable 88.2% of 153 such works increased in value.