Saturday, November 3, 2012


Port Lligat and Figueres

Persistence of Memory, 1931. In Museo Teatro,  Figueres

We had the good fortune on two occasions to spend a few hours with Salvador Dali. 

Would that were true. What a lifetime experience that might have been. Alas, he died in 1984. We visited both his home in Port Lligat and his final resting place in Figueres, Catalonia - both the most important museums and galleries of his works.

Our first exposure to the great Dali was on a day trip from our base in Collioure, France. We drove the old meandering coast road (N-260), crossing the border into Spain at Cerbère/Portbou. After a couple of hours of negotiating cliff-hanging hairpins with alternating views of the azure Mediterranean and rocky hillsides, sometimes barren and sometimes covered in seemingly impossible to harvest vineyards, we entered the Parc Natural del Cap de Creus. There was very little traffic this time of year (late October) and the weather was grand.

We snaked our way down 
the mountain pass into the harbour town of Cadaqués for our bearings then turned into the next bay which is Port Lligat, home of Salvador and Gala Dali for just over 50 years. Their home began as a tiny fisherman’s cabina overlooking the bay, and over the years Dali transformed it into a labyrinth of interconnected buildings, gardens and other open areas.

We ate our picnic lunch in front of the house while  waiting for our tour to begin. Even in late October reservations are required at Casa Museo Salvador Dali

fishing boats on the beach by the Dali house

Dali exhibited his first sketches when he was 14 years old. He studied art in Madrid but got expelled before graduating. The artist was a rebel until he died at the age of 84.

Salvador and Gala Dali bedroom

The egg: a frequent image in Dali's paintings
 is said to represent hope and love.

two of many inverted pots (?) on a whitewashed stucco wall 

Wandering through the rooms and around the courtyards and gardens at the Dali home in Port Lligat is like a magical mystery tour. These are but a few images that were captured by my lens. Does the pool have the shape of a penis? Male and female body parts are prevalent in the works of Dali.

Dali was one of the most unique artists of the 20th Century. He was a painter, a sculptor and an architect; a jewelry designer, photographer and filmmaker. He was a self-promoter and one of the earliest performance artists. To say that his life work and his ever changing views of the world were unconventional would be an understatement.

I bought the T-shirt

late afternoon light on olive grove above Cadaqués

Our brief glimpse of Salvador Dali's art and his life was only an brief introduction to the works of a creative genius. On reading biographical sketches of Dali and viewing his art, other words also come to mind: mysterious, visionary, enigmatic, perfectionist, versatile and prolific, obsessed, empathetic yet self-possessed, hedonistic and loving, scientific and philosophical ...

Rita and Goose. Museo Teatro, Figueres

Dali Museum (Museo Teatro), Figueres, Catalonia

The visit to Port Lligat only wetted our appetite for the works of Salvador Dali. We had to see more. We left France for Barcelona, lingering along the way for a week in L’Escala on the Costa Brava. On a rainy day we took a short drive east from L’Escala to Figueres.

Dali was born in Figueres in 1904, only a few blocks from Museo Teatro where his greatest collection of works is housed.

The Girl of Figueres (circa 1926)

Dali was most certainly an eccentric. But above all else, he was the ultimate surrealist, a man who challenged his audience to question conventional wisdom and the status quo. 

And while Dali’s influence in the world of art was and continues to be profound, his fantasies still leave us with unanswered questions.

Look closely at the two sketches below. What do you see?

Some interpreters of Dali's work have commented on the artist's relationship with Freud and his sometimes dream strategies to inspire his drawings.


Dali still excites and inspires those of us who do not always require assurances with ready answers, who can maintain some form of sanity in an ever changing world of ambiguities.

Mae West exhibit in Teatro Museo

Below, is a short video clip of one of Salvador Dali's most amazing creations: The Royal Heart. This miraculous piece of three-dimensional art is a gold broach with 37 precious gems including rubies that pulse in and out.

Look closely at the cutaway of the beating heart.
(may not play on some devices)


For more travel photogaphy and local information visit my photography website. 

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