For our dinner at el Bulli we planned to spend a couple nights in Roses, Spain, and since the closest train station is miles away in Figueres, the four of us traveled by car. It looked like surrealism would follow us around, from the food at el Bulli to the roadside gorillas.A Gorilla-Slide and My Nose, Photographed by Robert
There are three Dalí Museums in the area; two are in Figures, and easily reached by train from Barcelona. Inside one will find large crowds, school groups, and a few well-known works by Salvador Dalí. Also on view is Dalí's personal art collection, including work by El Greco and Marcel Duchamp, among others.Plaster Loaves of Bread, Eggs, and Gold Mannequins on the Dali Museum in Figures
One enters stage right to see Dali's iconic lip sofa, fireplaces (in the nostrils), and framed photographs. By climbing a set of stairs and peering through a Fresnel lens, the image comes together as Mae West. In some ways the museum reminded me of Olafur Eliasson's Take Your Time. Both artists make clever work, and when you mash a bunch of it together, you get clever fatigue.Salvador Dali's Mae West Room
On a lower level is Dalí's crypt, remodeled after his death to include an exhibition of his gold jewelry designs.Salvador Dali's Tomb
Much more worthwhile was a drive to Dalí's beachfront villa in Port Lligat, a remote fishing village on the Costa Brava. GI-614, Carretera de Roses a Cadaqués, is the winding two-lane road that takes you through the rolling terraced hillsides to a small bay on the other side of the peninsula. Just beyond Cadaqués is the village of Port Lligat where Dalí bought a small fisherman's shack in 1930.A View of Cadaqués from the Cap de Creus
To visit Dalí's home you need to make a reservation months in advance, and plan on getting lost if you use a GPS device. They only allow eight people inside at a time. With our group we got to hear the docent's spiel in English, French, Spanish, and Catalan.Outside the Casa Museu Salvador Dalí
Most rooms are quite small, and the house follows the contours of the hillside as Dalí's career prospered and rooms were added on. There are the occasional surrealist touches, but it nonetheless feels like an incredibly restful place, with outside views framed through square windows.Inside the Outdoor Dining Room: A Rhinoceros Head with Wings
The home is divided into public and private spaces, with rooms for guests and servants and areas for entertainment. On the private side are rooms for sleeping and making art.A Room With a View
Oddly, the books were replaced by painted simulacra, a bit of post-mortem surrealist serendipity.
Also of note is the easel device Dalí had made to hold his canvases. In his decrepitude he could sit in the chair, and move the painting up or down (though a slot in the floor) with the touch of a finger.
Tools of the Trade: Fainting in Coils, as Lewis Carroll Would Say
More so when viewing Dalí's art does his repressed homosexuality, his fear and devotion to Gala--and their unconsummated marriage--come to mind. Oddly, their private quarters point to a parallel solitude rather than anything remotely sexualized.Gala and Dali's Bed
On the far wall opposite their beds was an angled mirror, which reflected the above view. In the morning the sunrise could be seen without turning one's head.The View From Their Private Quarters
Through Gala's dressing room was a secret door that led to this onion-shaped room, off-limits to Dalí. If felt very much like I Dream of Jeannie's bottle-home. In the dressing room was a photograph of Walt and Lillian Disney, taken when they came for a visit in 1957. Walt looked happy but overdressed in a tweed coat, vest and tie, and Lillian looked like she had slept with a pea under her mattress, longing for a home with flush toilets and Wedgwood china.Gala's Private Quarters
Outside were the more public areas for entertaining. Though the whole place is whitewash and Spanish tile, one could sense his income changing as the spaces became bigger and more polished.Patio
I remember viewing the Dali and Film exhibition at LACMA and noted how similar his paintings were; an endless flat landscape that receded to a horizon line--that almost always bisected the picture plane. Looking at the still waters of the Mediterranean with its sharp edge that meets the sky, and the bizarre birc-a-brac tossed about, and his paintings seem almost representational.Dalí's Palomar, or Pigeon Loft
The penis-and-balls-shaped swimming pool was built in the early 70's as a hangout for Dali's entourage of hippie boys and studio assistants.Robert Poolside
Set at the tip of the glans of the penis-pool, the figure can only gaze and desire--but never possess. Like a decayed Narcissus at water's edge, his flaccid penis is held up by a crutch.Pocked Poolside Sculpture: A Self-Portrait as an Old Man?