At the Salvador Dali museums in Costa Brava, nothing is what it seems at first sight. The works of the great master first grab your attention with their intriguing appearance, then tease you with their cunning metaphors and finally tempt you to imagine a surreal world, where no boundaries exist and where everything is possible. Strolling through the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, I stopped for a moment and wondered what it would be like to peek into the mind of Salvador Dali; the brilliant mind that created these fascinating masterpieces. I thought about the movie, “Being John Malkovich”, in which a group of friends discover a secret door that leads directly into the mind of John Malkovich. They soon conduct tours and guests are able to go on a stroll through the famous actor’s mind. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a similar tour through Dali’s mind were possible? To find out, I visited the three Dali museums or the Dali Triangle – the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres, the Casa Dalí in Port Lligat and the Gala-Dalí Castle in Púbol – dedicated to the life and work of Salvador Dalí.
The museums of the Dalí Triangle
Dalí Theatre Museum
Dalí joined the Surrealism movement in 1929 and quickly became the movement’s biggest champion. His highly imaginative, surrealistic works never fail to fascinate. They make you stare and think. Seamlessly blending many artistic styles, ranging from classic to avant-garde, with his own eccentricity, Dalí created provocative pieces of art. Questions cropped up in my mind as I walked through the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres (map). Why are there eggs on the roof? Why is it raining inside the Cadillac? Why are the watches in his most famous piece, “The Persistence of Memory”, melting? It made me want to learn more about the life of Salvador Dalí.
Salvador Dalí’s home, Casa Dalí, in Port Lligat
So, who was Salvador Dalí? He was obviously an eccentric, fun-loving character who saw every day scenes through different lenses. Who or what inspired him and what motivated him to create these ingenious works of art? I found many answers in the Biography room at the Dalí Theatre Museum but I got to learn a bit more about his personal life during our visit to the Casa Dalí in Port Lligat (map) the following day. We were lucky to have Antoni Pitxot, a former apprentice of the great master and a painter himself, guide us through Dalí’s former residence. Mr. Pitxot wowed us with his lovely personal accounts of what it was like to work and live with Salvador Dalí.
Mr. Pitxot took us on a tour around the house and filled his commentary with personal anecdotes. He sat in the chair he used to sit in as a young apprentice and told us fascinating stories about the flamboyant Dalí, his love for his wife and muse, Gala, his temperamental character, and his penchant for practical jokes. He showed us Dalí’s studio and his little study. The latter, with its photo-covered walls, was especially insightful.
Dalí settled in the small hamlet of Port Lligat because he fell in love with the ethereal light that reflected off the water of the bay. By the clever use of mirrors, he could lie in bed and enjoy the views of the harbour. He built a gorgeous path along the coast and called it the ‘Milky Way’. He and his wife, Gala, would dress in white cloaks and walk down this path in the moonlight to stare out to the harbour and breathe the lavender-infused air.
Read about the ultimate road trip around the best places in Costa Brava
Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol
Later that day, we continued on to the Gala Dalí Castle in the village of Púbol (map), a gorgeous medieval town in Costa Brava.
I certainly got to know quite a bit more about Salvador Dalí by visiting his house in Port Lligat and the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol. Listening to Mr. Pitxot’s stories was a wonderful experience and afforded us a precious peek into Dalí’s life. If you find yourself wandering around the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres with many of the same questions in your mind, I highly recommend making a reservation for a visit to the Casa Dalí in Port Lligat and the Gala Dali Castle in Púbol. It may not be a tour through the mind of Salvador Dalí a lá ‘Being John Malkovich’ but visiting these Dali Museums just might answer some of your questions about this flamboyant, mysterious, master of surrealism.
Read other Velvet Escape posts on Costa Brava.
[…] Dalí, a castle that the great painter bought for his wife, Gala. The castle forms one of the three Dalí attractions in Costa Brava (known as the ‘Dalí Triangle’ and also includes the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres […]
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[…] Read about Salvador Dali museums in Costa Brava. […]
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[…] de Creus peninsula was a major source of inspiration for one of the greatest artists of our time, Salvador Dalí, who lived in nearby Port Lligat. Places to visit on the peninsula include the gorgeous harbourside […]
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Thank you Francesc for your comment. I’ve made the corrections in the post. 🙂
Pitxot not Pixtot. More than an assistant a painter himself
[…] by tourists who pass the town on their way from Barcelona to Figueres, the home of the world-famous Dalí Theatre Museum. That’s a pity because the city’s varied attractions warrant a stay of at least a few […]
Unfortunately I did not visit Gala’s Castle. I did make it to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which was worth the visit, but I did not find the rest of that city that charming.
I made it to El Bulli that trip, which was the highlight of my year – it surpassed what I had imagined. Also had a 3-hour lunch at Arzak and Elena, the chef gave me a private tour of the kitchen (I think they mistook me for a restaurant critic because I was taking notes: just another benefit of blogging). I enjoyed San Sebastian, especially how the entire town comes out in the evening to socialize, walk and eat pintxos. I admire Spaniards’ lifestyle.
I’ll make it to the Dali museum in Florida one of these days — not quite the same as being inside his house, though.
Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely check it out next time I’m in Berlin. Did you also visit Gala’s Castle in Pubol? The castle completes the Dali Triangle in Costa Brava (the museum in Figueres, the house in Port Lligat and the castle in Pubol). Glad to hear that you enjoyed my talk. Woohoo! 🙂 Thanks so much.
Excellent post on my all-time favorite museum (if you like them with a sense of humor, I recommend the DDR in Berlin). I knew I was in for a treat when I spied the giant eggs on the roof.
Now I’m kicking myself for not having visited Dali’s home.
p.s. Watched your talk video this weekend. I’m inspired.
This is my absolute favorite museum! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The installation pieces are fantastic, but the paintings are equally as awesome. Great gift shop too!
[…] Read the post: “Being Salvador Dalí“. […]
The Persistence of Memory – this poster reminds me of my uni days in the UK, when I first got acquainted with the works of Dali. I am a big fan. It’s interesting that his bedroom is as flamboyant as him – I would have expected nothing less. Easy to think how he might have dreamt those bizarre images, lying in that bed;) Mr. Pixtot sounds like a rocking guy – so how old was he, and how old was Dali when he worked with him?
I love this! I’m kind of bummed to see from Robbie’s post that the museum itself is not as wonderful as this blog is, but since I am a huge Dali fan it’s still on my bucket list.
This is a must visit place for me, looks sooo awesome!!!
Midnight in Paris is certainly on my list of movies to see. Thanks for the tip Vera.
Fantastic! But then isn’t he always? Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris has a very funny take on Salvador Dali. And have you seen the Dali museum in St. Petersburg Florida? Nothing like this look into his life, of course, but a terrific collection. Thanks so much for the pictures and narrative about one of my favorite odd ball characters. (and he was brilliant under all that rebelliousness!)
You’re welcome Sid! There’s definitely inspiration in eccentricity and flamboyance! 🙂
Thank you Rolando for your comment.
Fantastic article and great pictures! thank you very much for sharing them. I’m a huge fan of Salvador Dali. He’s one of the most importat artist of XX century and personally, I’ve learned a lot from his technique.
Thank you Rob! We were very privileged to have the entire Dali Theatre Museum to ourselves during our visit. We could take our time admiring the art and reading about his life. Fascinating! And it was a huge honour to have Mr. Pixtot guide us around Casa Dalí. His personal stories were priceless.
great great Article keith!
I love Dali and it seems i learned more about the museum and Dali via your article then when i was there myself (too crowded i guess)