I had no idea who Salvador Dalí was, except for a print of a photo of him that we had stumbled across in an antique store in Crete. Just a man with wild eyes and a funky mustache, until we traveled to the town of Fiqueras, Spain.
A short train or bus ride north from Barcleona, Figueras is the town where Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí was born on May 11, 1904. He was encouraged by his mother and sister to follow his interest in art, and in 1921 he enrolled in the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts. However, Dalí’s "eccentric style of dress and behavior, and his outspoken political conservatism" ultimately resulted in his expulsion from school, according to one Dalí website.
His art fell under the influence of Sigmund Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams, and the growing French surrealist movement. He called his paintings "hand-painted dream photographs" created by "paranoiac-critical activity." In 1929 Dalí moved to Paris and became one of the most famous artists of the period.
Dalí converted a 19th century theater in Figueras into a museum to house some of his craziest creations. Some examples are a living room he designed that when viewed from a distance resembles the face of Mae West, and an elaborate garden in which a statue of a woman on a classic car holds an umbrella that opens periodically. In 1989 the museum added Dalí himself to the collection, burying him in the floor.
The museum's collections are massive, displaying every facet of Dalí’s art. I didn’t enjoy his earlier works or lithographs that much (there were too many to make it interesting). However, his furniture and surrelistic paintings were incredible! The detail is amazing and even artists (like my mother) who were taught that Dalí was not a tr
ue artist, a commercial artist, appreciated this.
The design of the museum itself is wacky. The exterior of the main section is painted bright pink and has what appear to be dog-biscuits stuck to its walls. On top is a row of large white bulbs that resemble eggs. As for the greater meaning of this -- I’m lost, but it’s one hell of an attention-getter in a small Catalonian town!