I’ve fallen a bit behind on posting due to slow wifi and busy having fun with my sister, Bonnie who joined me in Barcelona. I’m back in business tonite from Canakkale, Turkey! We spent a week in Barcelona and took a day trip to Figueres where Salvador Dali was born.
🦞Each morning when I awake,
I experience again a supreme pleasure
– that of being Salvador Dali.🦞
Today we headed to Figueres, where Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech, was born on May 11, 1904, in the heart of Catalan country just 16 miles from the French border. Here, he was baptized, received his first communion, and in 1989, died.
Teatro–Museo Dalí in Figueres
Dali was born into a quasi-surreal existence. His brother, also named Salvador, died nine months before Dali’s birth. At age five, hIs parents told him while standing at his brother’s grave he was the reincarnation of his older brother. He would later say:
💧We resembled each other
like two drops of water, but
we had different reflections.💧
Like Picasso, Dalí produced highly sophisticated drawings at an early age. His parents strongly encouraged him, even building him an art studio before he entered art school. He painted this at age 6.
He was devasted at age 16 by the loss of his mother to breast cancer. His father married his mother’s sister. While at art school, he dabbled in cubism. He was twice expelled from the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando art school because he refused to submit to an oral exam, telling them,
🐜I am infinitely more intelligent than these three professors,
and I therefore refuse to be examined by them.
I know this subject much too well.🐜
In the 1920s, he went to Paris and began interacting with artists such as Picasso, Magritte and Miró, which led to Dalí’s first Surrealist phase. There, he also attended the salons of Gertrude Stein and met Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the other artists across disciplines seeking a new language to express their post-Great War age. He also read and was influenced by Freud. At just age 27, he painted his most iconic surrealist painting, The Persistence of Memory (now at MOMA).
Dali and Gala
In 1934, Dali married Gala Diakonova. She became his lifelong muse, portrait model, and business manager. He even signed his paintings with both of their names.
Dali was obsessed with Helen of Troy from childhood and saw his wife Gala Dalí and the surrealist character Gradiva as the embodiments of Helen. He dedicates his autobiography Diary of a Genius to
💋my genius Gala Gradiva,
Helen of Troy, Saint Helen,
Gala Galatea Placida💋
Helen of Troy, by Dali
Dali experimented in many other media and genres and the avant-garde. In 1937, he paired with Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli to create “the lobster dress,” worn by Wallis Simpson in a Vogue photoshoot. (Dalí regularly put lobsters in his paintings, often using them to represent his fear of castration.)
He also designed a dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Spellbound, and worked with Walt Disney to create an animated short, but the project was shelved for financial reasons. Several years later, Walt Disney’s nephew made the 6 minute film based on Dali’s storyboards, and it’s rather lovely.
In the 1960s, the mayor of Figueres, Spain—Dalí’s hometown—asked the artist to donate a piece to the city’s art museum, Museu de l’Empordà. Instead, he declared he would donate an entire museum. He began refurbishing the Figueres Municipal Theatre, which was almost entirely destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, and turned it into the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum. The museum, with its Dalí-designed facade decorated with sculptures of giant eggs and bread rolls, officially opened in 1974, but Dalí continued to expand it up until his death.
He played with optical illusions – this depiction of Abraham Lincoln doesn’t appear at all looking at the painting, only a painting of a naked woman shows, but is clear in the photograph.
The arrangement of furniture only clearly becomes a portrait of Mae West when you climb some stairs and look through a convex magnifying glass.
He did some beautiful work in many different media, such as this treasure:
Make what you will of his 1947 portrait of Picasso “Portrait of Pablo Picasso in the Twenty-First Century” – the painting was part of a series of portraits of genuises:
After the love his life, Gala, died, he made this painting of their reunion in heaven:
The 1980’s were cruel to Dali; he developed a palsy and could no longer paint, and then his beloved Gala died. Later, he was badly burned in an electrical fire and ended up in a wheelchair. He died in 1989 and was buried under the theatre stage here in Figueres.
But he still had one more display of surrealism to come.
In July 2017, Dalí’s body was exhumed as part of a paternity suit brought by a woman who claimed to be his daughter. The exhumation proved the woman wrong, but it did yield one unexpected discovery: according to the forensic experts who saw the body, his trademark waxed moustache has remained intact since his 1989 death. “The mustache preserved its classic 10-past-10 position,” Lluís Peñuelas of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation told a Spanish newspaper. The doctor who embalmed Dalí in 1989 called it “a miracle.” That’s some serious Pomade!