One of the places on our “must-see” list when we went to Spain (ok, on my list) was the Salvador Dali Museum in Figeres – just outside the city of Barcelona.
I have been a fan of Dali since I first discovered him when I was in grade 10. Surrealism, as an art style, offers the perfect combination of weirdness and symbolism to an angst-driven teenager. I was inspired to paint my own surrealistic works, going so far as to accept a commission to paint a 10 x 12 foot mural in a nightclub when I was 18 years old! So I just had to see his museum!
We took the train to Figeres and the museum is just a short walk from the station. You couldn’t miss the building (as you can see from the picture here). Who else but Dali would put eggs on a roof?
We walked through the exhibits, and I was happy to see so many of the artworks that I had only seen in books and slides. But what really blew me away was the jewelry collection.
This is what the museum web site says: The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation is presenting at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres the new exhibition DALÍ·JOIES, for which the architect Òscar Tusquets has completely refurbished a building annexed to the museum. The exhibition, which is permanent, includes the thirty-nine jewels in gold and precious stones from the old Owen Cheatham collection, two jewels made later, and the twenty-seven drawings and paintings on paper that Salvador Dalí made in designing the jewels. The whole forms an extensive collection of works carried out by the artist between 1941 and 1970, providing a perfect illustration of the various phases of his artistic development.
According to the information the collection was acquired by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation from a Japanese organisation in 1999 at a cost of 900 million pesetas (5.5 million Euros) or around $7.2 million dollars!
I took lots of pictures as you can well imagine but because the room was dimly lit some did not turn out. Each piece sits in its own clear case highlighted by a brilliant spot light which shows off the magnificent colors of the metals, stones, glass and even plastic.
One of the pieces I especially loved is called “The Royal Heart”. It was made in 1953 with gold, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, peridots, garnets, amethysts, diamonds and pearls. This picture is one that did not turn out but you can see the image on line. At first glance, the piece appears to be simply a heart covered with red stones but nothing more – that is, until you get right up close to it. Dali installed a mechanical device that causes the center of the heart to beat like a human heart!
As well as designing the forms of the jewels, Salvador Dalí “personally selected each of the materials used, not only for their colours or value but also for their meaning and the symbolic connotations of each and every one of the previous stones and noble metals. ”
Salvador Dalí said of these jewels: “Without an audience, without the presence of spectators, these jewels would not achieve the function for which they were created. The viewer is thus the final artist. His look, heart and mind – with greater or lesser ability to understand the creator’s intention – imbue the jewels with life.”
An amazing exhibit not to be missed if you are ever in the area.