Marlowe insisted on putting this hard-boiled egg into her silver purse before we left San Sebastian for the Bilbao Aeroporto. She doesn't like hard-boiled eggs, so the very fact that she had one in her purse, next to the play Euro money set we'd bought for her in Biarritz and the stuffed animals she'd brought, was troubling. Why? I wondered. Why an egg, for God's sake?
Perhaps the odder discovery was this enormous egg at the entrance to a massive exhibition of Salvador Dali's work, housed at the Artist's Circle in Barcelona, off Avenida Portal de l'Angel. I'm guessing that people throughout dear Salvador's life were like me, wondering Why? Why an egg? Why bent clocks? Why, on God's green earth, do you wax your dang mustache, Sal?
I'd been dying to see a museum on this trip, even though I know it's not a super-duper museum-heavy excursion. With kids, the expectations cannot be that you'll get to all the wonders of the world -- I'll do a post on toting the kids around Barcelona, too, to show what we actually have done -- but I was aching to see some of this Spanish art. It is so modern and fresh, despite the fact that it's old. I am also struck by how different it is from the art I've seen in Florence and in Paris - it's irreverent and sensual and erotic in nature, but witty and funny and human.
So the very fact that a Dali exhibition was literally down the avenida from our hotel kept nipping at my heels. I asked Raf if we should take the girls, to expose them to the fantastic Senor Dali, but he insisted that I go alone, save the cost of three wasted admissions and enjoy wandering alone among his legacy, so I did.
For 8 Euros, it was a bargain - a warren of cave-like rooms, each curated thoughtfully to give breadth and depth to Dali's many artistic whims and periods. One room showed off his fascination with sparse drawings of mythology, another was dedicated to his packaging and product design, another was strictly nudes. I followed two small arrows on the floor past a small bronze sculpture and through heavy red velvet drapes -- it was difficult to even find the opening -- into a womb-like room filled with small bronze sculptures with biblical symbology, each illuminated by its own spotlight. I was alone in there, which was both creepy and exhilarating. To see the work of a master artist up close like that was breath-taking.
And the exhibit went on like that. I found myself utterly drawn to the small-scale version of a sculpture that Dali had created for the 1954 Fallas de San Joseph in Valencia; by "small," I mean that it took up a small room, but was the model for a large-scale installation piece for a festival in Valencia where, once a year, artists would create a piece of art to show and then blow up with fireworks, letting it burn while the crowd celebrates. It is the ultimate statement of "art for art's sake." (Although, since Dali kept the mini version, perhaps he knew it would be valuable, no?) The black and white photos lining the walls around the model are incredible in and of themselves, with Dali directing a team of metal workers and sculptors in a warehouse, then assembling the model at Fallas, then the darkening sky filling with sparks from fireworks, then the entire crazy thing going up in a blaze of smoke and flames.
Another thing I liked about the exhibit were the simple photos of Dali and his love, Gala, at their home with friends, Dali in a bathrobe or naked while painting, Dali floating in the sea water near his home in Figueres, Dali in his coffin during the magnificent bit of performance art that was his funeral. I read that Dali not only painted and sketched, but sculpted, directed films, wrote a novel... A true Renaissance man.
So okay, maybe I don't *get* the egg, but I like it. And that's "art," isn't it? You don't know what it is -- and you don't have to -- but you like it.