The art world is an endless vista of influence and culture, from abstract to impressionist and surrealist, there is always something that appeals to the human spirit no matter your preference. If you’re like me, Salvador Dali is one such appealing artist. Take a day trip from Barcelona to Dali’s home and museum, experience his genius up-close, and get inspired!
Dali’s Portlligat Museum-House
Just north of Barcelona, very close to the border of France, lies a seaside town where Salvador Dali’s life and work can be seen around every corner. The artist resided in Portlligat where, in 1930, he began to build one of the most unique and whimsical houses in the world right on the shore.
Portlligat, a beautiful village with myriad cafes and small restaurants, is reached from Barcelona by a nearly three-hour drive through lush, pristine hills and rural townships. The calm of the landscape is as though a painting itself, and by the time you’ve arrived to the museum-house, you’re certainly in the right frame of mind to enjoy perhaps the greatest creation by the artistic legend, Dali.
Upon entry, you’re greeted with immediately with the grandeur of Dali’s life and work. A large, stuffed bear holds a lamp to illuminate the initial living area, where you’ll also find taxidermied swans, an homage to their lives as Dali’s personal pets. Though many areas are roped off to the public, the house itself is quite intimate and each room relatively small and easy to view. Despite the tight, winding halls and minimal size of the rooms themselves, there is no shortage of excitement, color, and imagination in every corner!
You will make your way around the varying rooms and spaces to the round room, where you’ll find a cozy dome with a small fireplace, decorated with seating around the periphery – and one very unique attribute! Stand directly in the middle of the room, beneath the highest point of the dome, and speak out loud – your voice will magically echo throughout the space and make its way back to your ears in a very trippy way!
One of the most fascinating areas of the house is Dali’s actual art studio, where you can view his last unfinished work, a large piece on a track built into the wall that was designed to lift and fall into the floor as he painted different sections of the canvas! Next, take a peek into Dali’s very own art supply stash in a lower room next to his studio, where you can see the very mediums used to create his timeless artwork.
You will also encounter the pool area at the rear of the house, another beautiful and whimsical area with a couch designed like Mae West’s lips and a rear sitting area full of large, colorful cushions.
After the house tour, take a few minutes to walk around the lake shore and experience the view as Dali saw it so many years ago. He was known to paint outside in this area, inspired by the light.
The Dali Theatre and Museum
In addition to his personal home, make sure to visit his astounding museum in Figueres, where his personally-designed building is truly a sight to behold – inside and out. As you approach the building, you’ll be met with dark pink walls covered with one of Dali’s favorite subjects: loaves of bread! Look upward and view another of his favorite themes – large eggs lining the top of the structures’ walls.
As you make your way into the theater area of the museum you’ll be greeted with one of the most unique Cadillacs in existence – one that rains from the inside! This central piece was the Cadillac that Gala, Salvador’s wife of nearly fifty years, used to drive as well as the same car that the couple drove across the country during their stay in the United States. Take a look around the theater’s walls as well, which are quaintly lined with ivy and statues set within the brick window frames.
Once inside the museum, the astounding main lobby area displays some of his most impressive – and enormous – pieces of artwork. One of the most famous is “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea”. This painting is not just an ode to his wife and muse, Gala, but an optical illusion as well. Take a look; do you see her… or Abraham Lincoln?
In the museum there are so many unbelievable pieces of artwork to view, almost all of which you can do up close. Another world-famous installation located here is the Mae West Room, which combines myriad multi-media pieces which, when viewed from the elevated platform at the rear, transform a couch (made of his vision of her lips), a nose-shaped double fireplace, and picture frames into her face. Take a look through the glass at the top of the platform for the full view!
As you make your way through the rooms and hallways, you’ll find priceless works of art around every corner – but don’t forget to look up! One of his most impressive works is found on the ceiling: The Central Panel of the Wind Palace. Dali’s panoramic, visually striking take on the passages of life. Featured in the center of the piece again is Gala, whose likeness you’ll see in a vast many of his most intricate works.
Once you’ve filled your senses with the wonders of the museum, take a walk next door to the jewelry exhibit, where Dali’s works are reimagined as beautiful, intricate pieces made with gold and precious gems. This smaller exhibit makes use of it’s windowless space, as you wind through, the pieces are illuminated individually to fully display their brilliance.
There may be no more unique and fascinating artist than Salvador Dali, and once you experience his genius up close, you’ll see why! Take a small day-trip from Barcelona, and find out why Dali’s works are ever-enduring.