The relationship between Dalí and the city of Barcelona has always been controversial and difficult. Although in love with Cadaqués and La Costa Brava, he spent an important part of his life in Barcelona. Often polemical in his actions and statements, many intellectuals from the city didn’t sympathise with him. Even now, many years after his death, Barcelona doesn’t have a street or a square named after him, something quite meaningful. From ShBarcelona we explore these contradictions and find the places in the city where he spent time while he was around.
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Related article: The Dali Museum in Figueres, a must
Expert Ricard Mas, in his book Dalí and Barcelona, explores the relationship and claims that “We haven’t quite understood Dali’s sense of humour here”. He argues that he spent a significant part of his days in the city during his early age and youth days, as he had many connections here and his family was mostly from Barcelona. In his book, Mas details the places Dali visited (in his youth and later on, after the war), the shops he frequented and other locations he knew well. He also claims that his relationship with the city is now a bit better than when he died, in 1989: “When he died in 1989 everybody thought he was a clown, people had no consideration for him. The only thing that was valued was that he was a good drawer and his surrealist period (…) But with time this image has improved and today Dalí is one of the great ones.” Dali’s rejection of Catalan nationalism, his assimilation by Franco’s regime and his support of Catholicism after the 40’s didn’t help either. His conferences in the Ateneu (an institution to promote and preserve Catalan culture) were often controversial. In 1930, for example, he insulted Angel Guimerà calling him a pederast and a pig and proposed the demolition of the Gothic quarter. However, when he came back from the States in the 50’s, he reconciled with the Ateneu institution and his intellectuals with a new conference, in which he took back his previous statements.
Proof of the city’s indifference to the surrealist genius is the fact that there’s no public space named after him, although this is meant to
Following Dali’s tracks
As a child, Dali visited his uncle in his bookshop Llibreria Verdaguer, located in La Rambla, opposite the Liceu (the old bookshop is now a Café). As an adult and already a famous artist, he used to exhibit his works in Galeria Dalmau (Consell de Cent street 349), or give the well-known conferences mentioned
Today, no major works of art can be seen in the city permanently, just a hidden gem: his paintings in the ceiling of the Palacete Albéniz, only open to the general public in special occasions.