Even today, in this era of “nothing shocks us anymore”, Dalì still manages to get an eyebrow raise out of me. The man is endlessly fascinating and just when I think I’ve seen all his work, up pops another thing I never knew he did. Just this morning, I found a clip of a dream sequence he created for Hitchcock’s film “Spellbound” in 1945. Of course once you see it, it’s obvious it’s the work of Dalì. And then this afternoon, I came across this rather bold photo shoot he did with photographer Charles Hewitt for a British editorial magazine called Picture Post in 1955. The artist posed up a storm and never missed an opportunity to shock his audience. Hewitt simple titled the feature, “One day with Salvador Dali”.
Dalì is photographed at home on Spain’s Costa Brava, near the secluded village of Port lligat. In 1930, after his father threw him out of the house, unable to bear his blasphemous antics any longer, a young Salvador bought himself a fishing shack with an advance of 20,000 Francs for a painting commissioned by the Viscount de Naila. As the artist became more sought-after over the years, for every painting and sold-out show, Dalì would purchase another neighbouring house, expanding the property into his sprawling surrealist Spanish sanctuary.
Speaking of his dreamy bohemian lair,Dalì once said…
“Portlligat is the place of production, the ideal place for my work. Everything fits to make it so: time goes more slowly and each hour has its proper dimension.”
This back belongs to Gala, Dalì Russian wife and muse. When he first met Gala on the Costa Brava with her then-husband and painter Paul Éluard, a thirty-five year-old Dalì was said to be a virgin. His relationship with her was one of the reasons he was kicked out of the family home.
In the early 1930s, Dalí started to sign his paintings with his and her name as “it is mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures”, he wrote. According to most accounts, Gala had a strong sex drive and throughout her life had numerous extramarital affairs (among them with her former husband Paul Éluard), which Dalí encouraged, since he was a practitioner of candaulism (a sexual practice or fantasy in which a man exposes his female partner, or images of her, to other people for their voyeuristic pleasure).
They didn’t call him a surrealist for nothing.
Did you know you can visit Dalì’s Time Capsule home in Spain?
In a spectacular location overlooking the sea, you can get a sense for the daily life of Salvador Dalí where he lived and worked between 1930 and 1982. It was here where his first art studio was built.
The house has been kept just as it was when he and Gala lived there, complete with its phallic shaped swimming pool and rooms are adorned with bunches of yellow Sempervivum, Gala’s favourite flowers. Photographs of famous friends such as Walt Disney, Coco Channel and Ingrid Bergman are all around the house.
Getting tickets is a slightly tricky process, but if you ever find yourself on the Costa Brava, it’s definitely worth making this a priority. You need to reserve your ticket before your visit, but also need to arrive half an hour before to collect it because of how tightly the visits are organised. All the info you need is here.
And Dine at his favourite local?
In 1978, Dali designed the logo for El Barroco Restaurant nearby in Cadaques and the decor is clearly inspired by their loyal customer. He used to reserve the entire patio to dine and invite gypsies and hippies to his table to provoke other guests. The cuisine is Lebanese, but Dalì would always order grilled lobster with garlic, steamed mussels and Catalan shoulder of lamb– now secret items on the menu 😉