An hour and half on a high speed train from Barcelona is the town of Figueres. This is where the eccentric genius Salvador Dali was born (1904) and buried (1989). The train travels along the foothills of mighty Pyrenees mountain and the journey is amazingly scenic.As we walked towards the Dali museum we passed an early morning Food Mercato- an open air market where vendors were selling fresh fruits and veggies. Bought some fresh apples and oranges to enjoy as snack later on. Walking little bit further down the street came across a flea / antique market. After browsing at some interesting wares, I realized I can't put my camera away. Came across a funky hotel with cows, bugs bunny and a jester decorating the facade. It did put a smile on my face.As you walk from the train station to Dali's museum on La Rambla you come across " face of Dali" which is a tribute to the famous artist of this town. It is a face of Dali that appears stretched out and distorted when seen flat on the ground but appears normal when viewed in a convex mirror next to it.
The museum building is itself a piece of quirkiness, surreal as the artist was. I was not prepared for this. Apparently, Dali designed it himself in the last years of his life.The outside walls have small sculptures of golden bread buns and golden giant eggs. At the entrance bought tickets for the Dali museum where he lived and now it mainly houses his paintings and sculptures and his jewelry museum is right next door. As soon as you enter the main museum along the walls are golden mannequins and the room is enclosed by a giant glass sphere. All around you is some piece of art to be noticed.Every nook and cranny is filled with Dali's works.
The first striking piece is a black Cadillac with a grotesque looking lady on it . When you peer inside of the broken glass you see a dead-like lady in the back and a guy in the drivers seat. On top of all this is an upside down boat dripping with water.The Cadillac in "Car-Naval" plays a tune for your coin, adding another dimension to the artwork.
As you enter the building there is a large painting done by Dali. It looks like several figures of Venus de Milo, but when you squint your eyes the painting metamorphoses into the face of Abraham Lincoln. If you scrutinize it more closely you can see his wife Gala in it.
The museum is a 5 stories in a circular building. It is very difficult to exit this place, perhaps that's what Dali wanted.You land in a souvenir shop, of course.
The famous "Marilyn Monroe " interactive piece is brilliantly insane. It is absolutely wild. It looks cool in photos, but to grasp the scale of this famous visage of apartment furniture you have to experience it.The lens you look through is suspended underneath a dead camel.Check out the pictures.
As you move through each floor of the museum you realize that Dali worked in many mediums and styles .In much of Renaissance art, you once again crane your neck to take in a scene on the ceiling . This time though it is not Biblical or heavenly, but the feet of Dali and Gala hanging down from the sky as if landing down after a fun skydiving adventure.
A fun stairway in the museum is very Dali- esque. It is a mirror image as are also some of his drawings.
His other works of art are equally interesting. Dali used a technique called "paranoic-critical method".Check out the picture of a woman reading a piece of paper on a profile of an old man with a long beard in one image.In such works he explored the mind's ability to perceive links between things that are not rationally linked. For example , in the dark, a trashcan can appear as a monster in a dark alley. Well, Dali didn't have to go far to enter a paranoid state. It is said he was born exactly 9 months after his older brother, who was named Salvador died of gastroenteritis. He was named after him. At age 5 he was taken to his grave and told that he was an incarnation of his brother, a concept that he came to believe. Subsequently, Dali found it difficult to sleep and could dose only if he imagined himself laying in a coffin, dying. His "demons" certainly emerge in his art. Many experts are of the opinion the Dali's works are autobiographical. He was a narcissist.
Surrealism was actually a cultural movement in 1920's where people discussed psychology and social revolutions. But later visual arts became a medium to deliver surrealist messages to public and Dali mastered it and did it with panache and humor. He actually appeared for a press conference in New York dressed up in a scuba diving suit.
At his jewelry museum there are some very unique, very well designed and well crafted pieces. A heap of golden skulls in emerald and amethyst. A heart in rubies, that actually beats and wings in diamonds that flap.
Other pieces are surreal in their own way, like an elephant on long mosquito legs, flower petals with hands at the ends.This was an amazing one of it's kind collection.
In his long career , he was a sculpture, involved in printmaking , fashion, writing, advertising and also film-making .His flamboyance certainly permeates through the entire Dali museum.His works definitely evoke emotions from a viewer, which could be of delight or disgust, which I think is always an intention of a true artist.
Some Dali facts:
- His famous upturned, waxed mustache that became his trademark was inspired by Diego Velasquez, a 17th century Spanish master painter.
- He had a keen interest in natural science and mathematics. In 1950's he painted his subjects with rhinoceros horn shapes which signified divine geometry because Dali figured that horns grow in logarithmic spiral.
- He was also fascinated by DNA and tesseract - a 4 dimensional cube.
- He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on the movie" Spellbound" on a dream sequence, in which he heavily delves into themes of psychoanalysis. Dali created a dream like quality to the film which depicted that a repressed experience can directly trigger a neurosis.
- He paid homage to Newton in creating a sculpture that depicts an open torso and a suspended heart to signify " open- heartedness" and an open head indicating " open- mindedness- two qualities important for scientific discovery and human endeavors.
At the souvenir shop had to buy the famous Dali mustache:)