"The only difference between myself and a madman is that I am not mad."
AKA The guy with crazy mustaches who made melting clocks painting and elephants with giant thin legs. Born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain, he was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, especially in the genre of surrealism, which involves painting dreamlike images which are left to the viewer to interpret as they wish. He didn't just paint surrealism, though. He lived it. He became almost as well known for his bizarre behavior as his paintings, and may be largely responsible for the belief that artistic genius comes with insanity (see the page quote for his thoughts on the matter).
This painter provides examples of:
Badass Mustache: Without a doubt, his most distinctive physical feature. There was a whole book of photos of him with extra-crazy mustaches. He claimed it was a pair of antennas he used to pick up ideas. When he appeared on What's My Line, the winner made sure it was him by asking if he had a distinctive mustache.
Berserk Button: Dalí was a notorious perfectionist, such that he once smashed apart one of his art projects displayed in a window just because some tiny adjustments had been made to it.
Book Dumb: Subverted. Dalí would rather daydream than pay attention, to the point where he could neither read nor write after his first year. After his father Salvador Dalí i Cusí started encouraging his son's love of art, Salvador began getting better grades.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Sometimes he gave his paintings ridiculously specific titles, like "Face of Mae West Which May Be Used as an Apartment" or "Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire"
Eye Scream: A famous example in the film Un Chien Andalou, in which he collaborated with similarly surrealist director Luis Buñuel. The effect of a human eye being sliced with a razor blade was replicated with a cow's.
G-Rated Drug: One of Dalí's claims was that he ate a large quantity of Camembert cheese to give himself vivid dreams to serve as inspiration for his paintings. It's unknown whether or not he actually did so, and it's also unknown whether or not this would work, wouldn't work, or would work due to the Placebo Effect.
His famous "The Persistence of Memory" was inspired by deliberately sleep-depriving himself, and letting disorientation do the rest.
He Also Did: Of all things, designed the label for Chupa Chups lollipops.
Hitler Ate Sugar: Fell victim to this a little, mainly because he was fascinated by Hitler (but didn't actually support him).
Long Title: He sometimes gave his paintings titles like this, such as "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening" or "Shirley Temple, The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of the Cinema in Her Time".
Mad Artist: Does this really need any explanation? "Un Chien Andalou" was deliberately designed to offend and anger the audience into attacking him, and he was deeply disappointed when that was not the case.
Mind Screw: As if the inherent weirdness of his paintings wasn't enough, many of them also employ perspective tricks and optical illusions, so you get different images depending on how far you are from them and what angle you view them at. He gave himself sleeping problems to "help" his creative process. He usually slept in an armchair holding a spoon over a metal plate; that way, as soon as he had slept enough to relax his muscles, he would wake himself up. He claimed that this prevented him from dreaming while asleep, which forced his mind to dream while he was awake...
Noble Bigot: For all his sensible artistic finesse, Dalí was an outspoken sexist, up to the point where he told a woman at the dinner table that he didn't want to even see her art because of her gender.
Sequel: His famous "Persistence of Memory" picture had a follow-up after WW 2, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, which shows everything shattering into pixel-like fragments, which was meant to represent the impact of the theory of relativity and the atom bomb upon perception, splitting apart the flowing picure of time, space, and matter into discrete, quantified units.
Dalí actually did a collaboration project with Walt Disney, of all people, on a short subject that was meant for Fantasia, but was ultimately scrapped. Destino was eventually completed in 2003 and was finally released on DVD as an extra on the 2010 holiday release of Fantasia 2000.
Once asked a young Lorraine Bracco if he could paint her in the nude, but she refused, just thinking he was some creepy old man.
Came pretty close to making a film with the Marx Brothers; some stills from the storyboard include Harpo playing a harp on fire on the top of a cliff while Chico negotiates a maze of bicyclists a la Frogger.
He was cast as the evil Emperor by Alejandro Jodorowski in a proposed film adaptation of Dune.