Figueres Spain is Surreal

FigueresFigueres is a nice little town. It suffers from being in Catalunya,  very close to Girona which is one of the most beautiful towns  I’ve ever seen. We stayed in Girona and made a day-trip to Figueres, which is only a half-hour away by train. The only reason anyone goes to Figueres is because Salvador Dali created his theater museum there. The building is great, and very bizarre. The art is exactly what you’d expect from Dali. And there are a few surprises too. Toward the end of his life, Dali started to design jewelry and jewelry-like objects. These are beautiful. They opened a new market for him and were a new profit center.

Salvador Dali in Figueres

First, some pictures of the town and of he museum building.

 

Then some pictures of the inside of the building –

Finally some works of art –

Some jewelry to end –

There are two broad schools of thought about Dali. In one, he’s a commercial-minded publicity hog who specialized in self promotion and even went so far as to sign blank sheets of paper which were later made into silkscreens. The other opinion is that he and a few colleagues invented a new way of painting – Surrealism. And that he continued to experiment with new media and forms of expression throughout his life. Even more, some of his paintings are among the best paintings ever made.

The weird thing is, they are both right. Dali nd his wife were appallingly crass self promoters who were passionately interested in their income. Also, Dali’s Crucifixion at the Metropolitan is one of the best paintings ever painted. His Spanish Civil War, also called Soft Construction with Beans, is a horrifying and original image.

SalvadorDali-SoftConstructionWithBeans

crucifixion

Perfectly Picturesque Pena Palace in Sintra Portugal

Pena Palace in Sintra

One of the first days of this Portuguese trip was a day trip to Sintra – a short distance from Lisboa. Sintra itself is extraordinarily cute with picturesquely climbing alleyways, art galleries and craft shops. It is also a great spot because it forms the center of a district of stunning country houses and palaces. There is a royal palace downtown, right on the main square. But we were there to see the houses in the neighborhood. My favorite is the least “tasteful” of the lot. Many guidebooks dismiss it as Victorian eccentricity at its worst, but I think that it’s Victorian eccentricity at its best.Pena Palace Portugal

Pena Palace Portugal

Suzie at Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena) is a spectacular mountaintop amalgam of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish and Renaissance elements. It was built for King Ferdinand II between 1842 and 1854 and designed by a German amateur architect, Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege.  It is now a Unesco World Heritage Site as one of the greatest examples of Nineteenth Century Pena Palace PortugalRomantic Revivalism. The day we visited, it was intermittently foggy and rainy. We’ve visited in bright sunny weather on previous trips to Portugal, and I think that it looks even better in the fog.Pena Palace Portugal IMG_0098 IMG_0099