The kids, John and I were discussing Salvador Dali after going to his Museum in Figures, Spain just 2 hours north of Barcelona. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about his life and his artwork. While we didn’t always like everything he did, the art was always thought provoking. His personality shines through everything. You can’t help but get to know him and his wife, Gala. He is larger than life with his crazy waxed mustache. In our discussion, my youngest, Oliver, remarked, “He reminds me of Lady Gaga.”
It’s true! He, like Lady Gaga, knew how to brand himself before there was branding! He, like Lady Gaga, was so good at creating and projecting his public persona. Everything he did and all the art he made was flamboyant and a little crazy. It’s performance art, not unlike our modern day Lady Gaga.
If you’re visiting near Barcelona, it’s an easy drive or train ride north to Figures. To create the museum, Dali and the mayor of Figures took the unused theater and changed it into Dali’s theater. When you walk into the courtyard, there is Dali’s car and for one euro you can make it rain inside. The boat that he and Gala floated around the Mediterranean harbor, where he lived, is hanging above. Dali himself is buried below the stage. Walking inside you can see a lifetime of Dali’s art. He was classically trained in Madrid. As a young man, he decided that he was better than the Madrid teachers, dropped out of school (like Picasso) and decided to become an impressionist painter. His classical paintings are almost like looking at a photography! I especially loved his impressionist pictures.
Dali’s paintings changed after discovering the teachings of Freud. Then you see his dreamlike landscapes, the ones with melting clocks, crutches (the crutches symbol stood for Gala who was his “crutch” in life), eggs, swans and elephants with matchstick legs. He often had a little boy standing in the corner looking at life. This represented himself as a boy trying to figure out life.
Next we went to Port Lligat to visit the museum that was his and Gala’s home. We stayed in the nearby village of Cadaques (see below). We hoped to find more of the real Dali and Gala here in their home. Oliver asked, “Was he really insane or was that his alter ego?”
Here in the house, we saw their normal, everyday life. He painting for 8 hours a day. He invented a movable canvas frame so that he could sit while he painted. He had a mirror placed so that he could see the sun rise while still in bed. They sat out on a beautiful patio and observed life. They went out in their boat, named Gala, as much as possible. (He did wear stange tie up espidrils and a funny coat in the boat…but never mind..) Gala hung pictures of them on trips and with famous people in her dressing room. They had a pool (yes, with a few weird things around it) to cool off in the hot Spanish summers. He never had people to the house. He’d make them come to a restaurant in Cadaques and show up in a strange outfit, to shock and awe.
Cadaques (pronounced Cada-keys) is the perfect Spanish beach town. We stayed in a lovely apartment called Casa Rideaux, that we found through a British Holiday home website. It had a wonderful view of the sea. We easily walked into town for coffee and exploring. The local coffee spot was a great place to people watch. One night John and I went to one of Salvador Dali’s favorite restaurants, Casa Anita. It still is very much the same as when he went. We were seated at a communal table with 6 other people and given a few choices for dinner by the owner who sat down with us. The shrimp and meat with cheese were amazing. However, the highlight was sitting with the people from Germany, the Netherlands and a young American couple, just married. At first it felt as though we all were invading each other’s space. The conversations began after we began to eat and drink a glass of wine. We discussed a great many subjects, including art, world war II, and travel . They became our great friends by the end of the evening. I think Salvador would have approved!
So if you find yourself watching Lady Gaga on television one of these days, think of the original brander, Salvador Dali, who was no starving artist. He became larger than life during his lifetime. He left a legacy of fun for those who visit his museums, whether you like his art or not. We were definitely inspired!
“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” ~Salvador Dali