Saturday 15 August 2009
Dylan Jones: 'Salvador Dali's garden is full of trompe-l'oeil figures and has a swimming pool in the shape ofan erect penis'
Talk Of The Town
We nearly didn't make it to the Dali house. We had been out in the bay at Port Lligat all day, and when the time came for our visit, the port captain said he didn't have a berth for our boat, and we'd have to wait. Admittedly none of us was sporting a waxed moustache, but this still felt a little harsh.
The Salvador Dali "House-Museum" is situated in the very north of the Costa Brava, to the north of Cadaques (where he spent long periods in his youth), and is made up of a number of fishermen's huts bought at different times by the painter and his wife Gala. It is not to be missed, so after some sweet-talking (more like sour-talking, actually), our boat was eventually allowed in.
The house is extraordinary, being a labyrinthine structure made up of a studio (including the hoist which allowed Dali to paint on the first floor and then drop completed paintings down to the studio below), a library, a bedroom, a bathroom and various living quarters configured in a typically surreal way. The garden is full of trompe-l'oeil figures, an enormous Wicker Man (with a sailing boat for a ribcage), several Michelin Men, and a swimming pool in the shape of an erect penis, with two shallow-pool balls below. There are huge stone eggs everywhere (obviously), and dozens of tiny children's chairs.
The couple lived here on and off for 50 years, and Dali only moved out when Gala died in 1982, taking up residence at the nearby Pubol Castle. The house is largely as he left it, apart from one small detail. When he left, he took his books with him, and they have been replaced by rows of fake cardboard books with nothing on their spines. While there is a lot to enjoy (like the room wallpapered by Gala with photographs of Dali with famous friends), the fake books were my favourite aspect, and I was disappointed that he hadn't put them in himself.
The museum is wonderful, however, with a surprisingly tasteful gift shop (I bought the biggest red-lips cushion I could carry). And so we went back to the boat with big surrealist smiles on our faces, even if we had forgotten to buy any fake wax moustaches.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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