Salvador Dalí at Home explores the influence of Catalan culture and tradition, Dalí's home life and the places he lived, on his life and work. Fully illustrated with over 130 illustrations of his famous work, as well as lesser known pieces, archive imagery, contemporary landscapes and personal photographs, the book provides uniquely accessible insight into the people and places that shaped this iconic artist and how the homes and landscapes of his life relate to his work.
|Publisher:||White Lion Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||8.90(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Jackie De Burca is a travel, arts and culture writer and creator of Travel Inspires, a website providing comprehensive travel guides from bloggers, tour guides and other experts. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, she feels a deep connection with the land in Catalonia, where she has lived for more than fifteen years.
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ROOTS & ENVIRONMENT
The area where the second Salvador Dalí was born on 11 May 1904, and in which he became entirely immersed, was the striking region of the Alt-Empordà, where his family could be traced back for several generations. This beautiful, dramatic part of the world has been sculpted by the Tramuntana wind, which regularly blows at eighty miles per hour. Pines perch precariously peering down over the sheer drops that dot the Mediterranean in this part of Catalonia. The strength and brutality of the Tramuntana have moulded both the land and those who live there. She has applied her artistic endeavours to the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees and affected the region's inhabitants for centuries, driving some even to suicide. It is said that because of her, the people of the Empordà region – the Empordanese – have a reputation for intransigence, having to push constantly against the wind. Salvador Dalí and his paternal ancestors did not escape this personality trait. She drove the artist's grandfather to flee to Barcelona, to avoid its potentially disastrous effects. Yet paradoxically, few winds carry such romanticism as she does. Some of the shapes she has created are just as hallucinatory as aspects of Dalí's art.
In collaboration with the Tramuntana, erosion by the sea has created a spectacular coastline, which encompasses the rugged, natural wonder that is the Cap de Creus Natural Park. It was in this easternmost tip of Catalonia that Salvador Dalí spent countless hours wandering as a young boy, merging with this soulful landscape: a geologist's dream. The light has a special quality, adding to the drama, as it playfully adjusts the palette of colours in front of your eyes. Even an unimaginative person can be inspired by this natural paradise, and especially by the wonderful rock formations, which reveal animals, birds and surreal shapes. It is a place that undoubtedly encouraged Dalí's love of duplicity and illusion at a tender age. It is easy to appreciate how this setting would have influenced such a highly imaginative, suggestible person.
In July 2017, when the documentary film, The Secret Life of Portlligat. Salvador Dalí's House, was screened for the first time, Montse Aguer Teixidor, Director of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, said 'This house-cum-studio was the refuge of the artist and Gala, at the very heart of the only landscape in which it truly belonged: that of Port Lligat, Cadaqués and Cap de Creus. A landscape that conditioned and stimulated the painter. I would even dare to say it gave him his identity. Dalí identified with it completely.' However, had it not been for an interesting sequence of events, Dalí may not have ended up being born in Figueres, capital of the Alt-Empordà region, and would not have spent his dreamy summer holidays in Cadaqués, the breathtaking seaside town close to his future home-cum studio at Port Lligat.
Generations of Dalí's paternal ancestors can be traced to the Empordà region. The parish records of Llers, a town renowned for its witches, show that there were Dalís living there in the late seventeenth century. Records before this time were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War, so it is impossible to know if his ancestors were based there even earlier. What we do know is that, as the artist grew more defined in his own persona, he felt that he possessed a kind of magic. He would tell Carlos Lozano, whom he befriended and used as a model from 1969, that 'My magic will protect you always.' Later in life, he created his own re-interpretation of the Tarot, in which he depicted himself as the Magician.
The Dalí surname may be Arabic in origin, which the artist certainly felt was true. The Dalí male ancestors were mostly labourers, with the exception of a a few blacksmiths, including the artist's great-great-grandfather, Pere Dalí Raguer. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Pere's elder brother, Silvestre Dalí Raguer, relocated from Llers to the remote fishing village of Cadaqués, forty miles away, and in 1817 Pere followed him there after the loss of his first wife, taking a local girl, Maria Cruanyes, as his second wife. The couple had three children: Pere, Cayetano and Salvador. Salvador was born in 1822, and in 1843 married Francisca Viñas, and although it was reportedly a turbulent marriage, she gave birth to Aniceto Ramund Salvador in 1846 and Gal Josep Salvador, Dalí's grandfather, on 1 July 1849.
By the time he had turned twenty, in 1869, Gal was living with Teresa Cusí Marcó, a married woman from Roses, who was five years older than him, along with her daughter Catalina Berta Cusí. His famous grandson would do something similar sixty years later in 1929, when he met the love of his life Gala, also a married woman, ten years his senior. In 1870, Gal inherited his mother's run-down house in Cadaqués, at 321 Carrer del Call, and started a transport business, driving between Cadaqués and Figueres, two of the most influential places in the future artist's life. Cadaqués' economy in the nineteenth century was predominantly based on salted fish and wine; its anchovies were in demand, especially in Rome. However, in 1873 when the phylloxera epidemic hit, the vines of the Empordà region were devastated. Even before this, Cadaqués' remote location, along with the Costa Brava's abundance of wonderful hiding places in the form of caves and inlets, had naturally lent itself to smuggling, but this increased notably after the epidemic. The nearby seaside town of Port de la Selva has a saying about its rival Cadaqués: 'In Cadaqués, tobacco hawkers, smugglers, good sailors and thieves.' Much later in his life, the artist would himself be involved in a serious forgery scandal. He attributed his 'love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes', to his Arabic lineage, believing that he was descended from the Moors.
In Cadaqués, on 25 July 1871, Gal and Teresa's first child was born, a girl they called Aniceta Francisca Ana, who sadly died in 1872. On 25 October 1872, Teresa produced a boy, Salvador Rafael Aniceto, the future artist's father. The couple's last child, Rafael Narciso Jacinto, was born on 23 January 1874. In 1881, Gal decided to relocate with his family to Barcelona. According to family tradition, the main reason for this move was to get away from the Tramuntana wind, which he felt was an extreme threat to his sanity. Additionally, for an ambitious man like Gal, Barcelona offered a more promising environment. The relocation also meant that in September 1882 his son, Salvador, could start his baccalaureate in Barcelona in one of the city's best schools. In 1883, his step-daughter, Catalina Berta, married into a very well connected legal family, the Serraclaras. Gal became involved in the Barcelona stock exchange, but in the mid-1880s, when things took a turn for the worse, he lost a fortune. The significant financial loss, along with the persecution complex he had developed, were too much for him and on 10 April 1886, he attempted to throw himself from his balcony, but was stopped by the police. Six days later, he successfully committed suicide, throwing himself, instead, into an internal patio, where he died instantly. Sadly, he had not escaped the fate that he had hoped to leave behind in Cadaqués. The suicide became a family secret.
The family were taken in by Teresa's daughter, Catalina, and her husband, where the boys remained until they had completed their education. Teresa remained until her death in 1912. Salvador completed his baccalaureate in 1888, and went on to study law in Barcelona University, graduating in 1893. Initially he worked part time for the Serraclaras, and also prepared deeds for a land registry office. However, like his brother, he sought security for life, which was most likely instilled by their father's legacy, as well as his Catalan roots, so he started studying to be a notary. In 1898, he applied unsuccessfully for a number of notary posts. However, a close friend from his school and university days, Josep 'Pepito' Pitxot, encouraged Salvador to focus his search for a notary post in Figueres, a thriving Catalan town and capital of the Alt-Empordà region. Pepito, who had married his own aunt, Angela, in 1900, and moved to Figueres, where she had inherited a house, would be the person who reconnected the Dalí family back to the Alt-Empordà. Over the years, various members of the Pitxot family would play important roles in Salvador Dalí's life: even after his death, his close friend the artist Antoni Pitxot (1934–2015) would become the first director of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, which he had helped the artist to design.
As the artist's father had fond memories of his birthplace in the white house near the church in Cadaqués, Figueres was a tempting choice for pursuing his chosen career, being the closest town to Cadaqués. After one unsuccessful attempt, he started his notary post in Figueres on 7 June 1900. It was this interesting sequence of events that brought Dalí's father back to his ancestral homeland. His new job also allowed him to marry his fiancée, Felipa Domènech i Ferrés. They were wed on 29 December 1900 in Barcelona.
Felipa, who was two years younger than her husband, had plenty of creativity flowing through her veins and genes. The pretty Barcelona girl's maternal grandfather, Jaume Ferrés, was considered a great craftsman and was reputedly the first person in Catalonia to work with tortoiseshell, at his business creating objets d'art. Felipa's mother, Maria Anna Ferrés Sadurni, also had an artistic temperament, and her father ran a haberdashery business, but he died when Felipa was only thirteen. This meant that her mother, Maria Anna, inherited the business, so Felipa helped her, showing considerable talent and skill creating objets d'art. She especially loved making figurines from coloured candles, which would delight her artistic son in his early years. Her brother, Anselm, who was born in 1877, was also a creative soul and would be an important early influence on Salvador Dalí. Felipa fell pregnant quickly, giving birth to the first Salvador, the artist's older brother, on 12 October 1901. Sadly, he died on 1 August 1903, aged less than twenty-two months, of an infectious gastroenteritis cold according to official records, although there are other theories that include a venereal disease deformity, passed on from his father, or meningitis, which could have resulted from his father hitting him. Neither of these theories has been proven, however. Dalí senior, seeing how depressed his wife was, decided to take her away to a secluded spot. The bereaved couple went to a place near the lake at Requesens, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, overlooked by the Canigou mountain; an important sacred site for the Catalans, and considered by some to be a portal to other dimensions. The place they visited is where Catalan pilgrims go every year to pray that the Tramuntana wind will continue to blow the Empordà plain free of disease. After such a terrible loss, the couple may have sought solace and peace in such a spot. However, considering that Señora Dalí gave birth to the 'real Salvador Dalí' nine months and ten days after her first son's death, it is also plausible that she was praying to become pregnant again and this time with a healthy, thriving baby.
In an elegant Modernist building in Figueres, where the couple lived on the first floor and the artist's father had his office on the ground floor, Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domènech made his entrance into this world, at 8.45 p.m. on 11 May 1904. Later he would be known as Salvador Dalí, a name which he felt perfectly explained the vital role he would play in the art world. Salvador translates as 'Saviour'. The artist felt that he was destined to be the saviour of Spanish art.
We can never know if Salvador Dalí's birth would have occurred if his brother hadn't been taken from his parents at such a tender age. It was under these circumstances that the great creative was born – a situation that the young Dalí perceived only too well and used to his benefit as much as possible. Yet paradoxically, he was also strongly affected by feeling that he was a replacement for the first Salvador. When he was five years old, his parents took him to his dead brother's grave, and informed him that he was his reincarnation; a declaration that obviously affected him in complex ways. This was possibly the first trigger of the duality that was so central to his artistic work, as well as to his public and private personae. Certainly, being told that he was a reincarnation of his late brother, at such a young age, could have helped to open up his imagination to endless possibilities. On the other hand, his sister Anna Maria describes an idyllic childhood in her memoirs, published in 1949.
Dalí's autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, is a wonderful web of unreliable memories, peppered with plenty of imagination, intricately woven together to keep the reader guessing what is true or false, and which parts are figments of his unbridled imagination. Ian Gibson, author of the ambitious Dalí biography, The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí, does warn about trusting it as a source. It does, however, illustrate how Dalí sensed and imagined aspects of his life, including those people and places that played important roles in it. Meredith Etherington-Smith, author of the biography, Dalí, observed, 'So despite his obfuscations, in spite of himself, from time to time reality breaks through the clouds of invention ... especially when he is describing his youth in Cadaqués. This was so central to his idea of his being, to the formation of his personality, that even he could not distort it enough to conceal it.'
In The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí he claimed to have had intrauterine memories; an environment he described as 'divine, it was paradise ... Already at that time all pleasure, all enchantment for me was in my eyes, and the most splendid, the most striking vision was that of a pair of eggs fried in a pan, without the pan; to this is probably due that perturbation and that emotion which I have felt, the whole rest of my life, in the presence of this ever-hallucinatory image.' Whether he truly believed he had this memory, or it was a colourful
figment of his imagination, symbolically the egg became one of his favourite motifs in his work, as he developed as an artist. This Dalinian symbol combines the duality of the hard exterior and soft interior, with feelings of hope and love. He was so obsessed with the symbolic value of the intra-uterine that later on, as he conceived ongoing improvements to his house-cumstudio, one of these was to festoon the roof with huge, white eggs as an alternative balustrade.
Outside the womb, his environment was privileged, nurturing and adoring. After the loss of the first Salvador, his mother was understandably overprotective of their second son. 'Aside from being forbidden the kitchen I was allowed to do anything I pleased. I wet my bed till I was eight for the sheer fun of it. I was the absolute monarch of the house. Nothing was good enough for me. My father and mother worshipped me.' His relationship with his dominant father became more complex and challenging as he grew older, although he did encourage his artistic talent in many ways. His doting mother and the servants spoiled him, which may have encouraged him to use his temper to get what he wanted. 'But while I have always known exactly and with premeditation what I wished to obtain of my senses, the same is not true of my sentiments, which are light and fragile as soap-bubbles. For, generally speaking, I have never been able to foresee the hysterical and preposterous course of my conduct, and even less the final outcome of my acts, of which I am often the first astonished spectator.' His mother Felipa played the role of adoring mother to perfection, commencing each new day of her son's life with the question, 'Sweetheart, what do you want? Sweetheart, what do you desire?' (Cor qué vols? Cor qué desitges?).
Another important presence in the household was Llúcia, his nurse. She was a kind, patient woman, who had Catalan folklore in her blood, so she sang Catalan lullabies to him and to his sister, Anna Maria, who was born on 6 January 1908. Although Dalí experimented immensely during his life, both artistically and in terms of the persona he adopted, his Catalan roots could never be denied. The Catalan temperament is naturally creative, energetic and inclined towards making money. Since the thirteenth century, the Catalans have been traders and merchants, as opposed to aristocratic empire builders, like the colonial Spanish. They are more similar to the natives of the Languedoc in France than they are to the Spanish. Irony is often an integral characteristic of the Catalan people.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Salvador Dalí at Home"
Copyright © 2018 Jackie de Burca.
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Roots & Environment, 8,
Incomparable Beauty & Optical Illusions, 22,
A Whole World of Aspirations, 32,
From Hermit to Dandy in Madrid, 40,
Pouncing on Paris, 50,
Stepping into Surrealism, 60,
Fascinations, Fantasies & Finances, 78,
I Am Surrealism, 88,
Camping Out in America, 102,
Religious & Political Metamorphoses, 110,
Science, Spirit & the Sovereignty of Gala, 122,
Immortality & Death, 138,
The Dalinian Legacy, 150,
Select Biliography / Acknowledgements, 174,
Picture Credits, 175,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A well researched biography of Salvador Dali, providing insight into how his home life, the area and culture he grew up in, and family influenced his work. Of course this is perfect for any fan of Dali, but also for those interested in how art is shaped by environment.
Salvador Dali is a painter whose name you probably know; it is also possible that you do not fully understand him or his work. If that is true for you, this book provides a welcome opportunity to spend time with Dali and his family and to better understand the artist in context. The reader learns about Dali's parents' lives before he was born and the death of their earlier son whom they also named Salvador. The author speculates that, in this, may lie some of Dali's duality. Dali's home village, the places he lived, the teachers and the schools that influenced him are all acknowledged. There are quotes from Dali's own writings along with excellent painterly and photographic illustrations. If you would like to spend time with this enigmatic, surrealist, I encourage you to take a look at this book. Thank you NetGalley and Quarto for this excellent read.