Elephants with trumpets for heads. Trees with human features. Melting clocks. Salvador Dalí’s art is haunting, surreal, almost as if it’s the secret stuff of anxiety-laced dreams brought to painfully visible life. He is perhaps second only to Pablo Picasso as an iconically Spanish artist.
Lost in the glamorous glow of that Spanish influence is the fact that he spent a significant amount of time in California’s coastal city of Monterey. This is just a handful of miles – and of years – from where the poet Robinson Jeffers wrote about “the gray-mouthed Pacific” and “rough sea rock”, beautiful imagery to be sure, but a world apart from the vibrancy associated with Salvador Dalí’.
As surprising as it may seem, especially to those familiar enough with the craggy coast and rugged, wind-stunted cypress trees to see how far they are from the artist’s aesthetic, Dalí’ and his wife, Gala, spent around seven years off and on in Monterey.
The little-known fact of Dalí’s time in Monterey is finally the subject of a permanent museum exposition. Dali17, named for the artist’s connection to the famous 17-Mile Drive along the coast in the area of Monterey and Carmel, is open daily from 10-5 (and until 6 on Fridays and Saturdays). While its contents are mostly lithographs and prints rather than original works, it’s worth a visit for its connection to the artist’s years in California. There’s a whole heck of a lot of other things to see and do around this neighborhood in coastal central California – San Francisco is only a two hour drive away and wine country three plus.
Dali17 at the Museum of Monterey
5 Custom House Plaza
Monterey, CA 93940
Note: The image used, is from the Museum website.