A Day with Dali
I could write pages and pages about Salvador Dalí. So many people have tried to decode his genius, yet I don't think anybody has come even close to understand that madness and the brilliance of this Catalonian whose imprint in the world continues to strongly influence artists, writers, fashion designers and pretty much every creative discipline that exists.
My day with Dali started at the house that he shared with his wife, Gala since 1930. What started as a little shack in a small piece of land facing the sea in Potlligat, Cadaques, a tiny fisherman town about 90 minutes away from Barcelona, grew through expansions into a house of labyrinthine configuration, and spectacular outdoor spaces overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
The house, is of course, strange, magical and surreal like Dalí. The only constant is the surprise. Everything is unique and different. There are many works of art, some by Dalí, some by friends. Personal objects that belonged to both Dalí and Gala, are still in place. Every piece has a meaning and a raison d'etre.
Layers upon layers of history, this house hosted Dalí's studio for most of his active life and the majority of his work was done there. Dalí moved out in 1982 when Gala died and he settled in a castle that he had gifted her in Pubol, a few miles away from Potlligat.
After inspecting every room closely and experiencing the arid, yet magnificent landscape outdoors, we drove back in the direction of Barcelona, this time to the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the town where he was born.
The museum was an old municipal theater that in 1961, under Dalí's own supervision, started becoming what now is the most important and impressive showcase of surrealism works, centered all on Dalí's oeuvre. Dalí's intervention in the museum was done in such way, that even the slightest details were under his control. He had said that he wanted the space to be a labyrinth, a great surrealist object by and in itself. And he accomplished that and more.
Everything from the building's facade and vestibule, multiple rooms and courtyard, are like being a part of a theatrical dream. What used to be the stage of the old theatre is now an enormous exhibition room, where Dalí instructed that a reticular glass cupola be designed and built. Beneath the dome and overlooking the stage, the massive backdrop is one of the pieces that impressed me the most; originally created by Dalí for the ballet "Labyrinth", which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1941, it is now dramatically taking over the entire wall.
The Mae West Room, a three-dimensional assembly that Dalí said had the effect to produce a dream that could be used as a living room, is the most popular space in the museum. Created also as homage to Mae West, the space has its origins after the painting that Dalí did of her in 1934.
The museum visit culminates with an adjacent building whose dark and lush rooms shows he collection of thirty-nine jewels in gold and precious stones and twenty-seven drawings and paintings on paper that Salvador Dalí made in designing the jewels between 1941 and 1970. Dalí was so prolific, creative and fearless, that he can only bring inspiration to anyone who is willing to step into his world.