Salvador Dalí (Part 2): Inspiration

Inspiration: “The action or power of moving the intellect or emotions” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Today I am dealing with the power that moved the intellect and emotions of a genius.

Salvador Dalí’s first source of inspiration was his beloved wife Gala (Kazan, Russia, 1894 – Portlligat, Spain, 1982). Her real name was Elena Ivanovna Diakonova.

I name my wife: Gala, Galushka, Gradiva; Oliva, for the oval shape of her face and the colour of her skin; Oliveta, diminutive for Olive; and its delirious derivatives Oliueta, Oriueta, Buribeta, Buriueteta, Suliueta, Solibubuleta, Oliburibuleta, Ciueta, Liueta. I also call her Lionette, because when she gets angry she roars like the  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion” (Salvador Dalí)

This post isn’t about Dalí’s first source of inspiration.

This post is about Dalí’s second source of inspiration …

Paratge de Tudela

Let me draw your attention to the map of Europe here below. If you look at it very carefully, most probably you’ll find Dalí’s second source of inspiration. I have surrounded it with a microscopic red circle. For your convenience, I have added four arrows pointing at that source of inspiration:

European map

Ok. I understand. You can see the arrows, you found the little red circle, but you cannot see Dalí’s second source of inspiration. Neither do I. Don’t worry. Follow me. We’re visiting it: the telluric, protohistoric, surrealistic, enchanted stretch of Mediterranean coast that ignited a genius’ mind; a mysterious place known as “El Paratge de Tudela”.

Three monoliths welcome us.

In one of them …

Tudela's place

… Salvador Dalí left me a message …

Tudela Dalí

It’s written in the old Catalan language, and it means: “This stretch between the Camel and the Eagle, which you know and love just as much as I do, is and must be kept as pure geology, free of anything that could falsify it; for me it is a matter of principles. It is a mythological place made for gods rather than for humans and it must be kept as it is now”.

Access to this area is strongly restricted for humans. No traffic is allowed. No bicycles. You can visit it only on foot, and only on certain days; magic days.


El Paratge de Tudela is located in the North side of Cap de Creus (Cape Creus, cape of crosses), facing the “Mar d’Amunt”. Cape Creus is a cape, obviously, and a natural park too. The cape is the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula and the eastern tip of the Pyrenees range. There is a lighthouse on it.

Faro cap de Creus

The surrealistic beauty of this landscape is the result of mixing two main ingredients: millions of years old rocks and the Tramuntana wind (North wind). And a pinch of Mediterranean salt, of course.

Some scholars maintain that this cape was hewn from the Pyrenees mountains by Hercules, the Greek hero, a bunch of centuries ago, but I tend to agree with the theory exposed in the paragraph above: very old rocks, crazy wind and a pinch of salt.

Thanks God, the crazy wind is on holidays today. Let’s go on.

Dalinianan landscape

The merciless sun isn’t on holidays today. It’s hot and there isn’t any shelter, any protecting shadow. A hat and a lot of sunscreen are mandatory if you ever visit this plutonic place. If you don’t take care, you can end up smashed by the Tramuntana wind and burned by Helios’ rage like the poor little pine tree you can see in the pic below. It attempted to grow in this wild territory. It was mad, wasn’t it? …

Cap de Creus pine

Geology. Tectonics. Mineralogy. We are walking through a rocky landscape of extraordinary beauty and geomorphological value.

S'Aliga Tudela

The plan you can see in the pic below was drafted by Dalí himself. The rock you can see in the pic above (photo) is what Dalí calls “Águila Tudela, lugar sagrado” –“Tudela Eagle, sacred place”- in the plan (pic below).

Dalinianan plan

With a little of imagination and lots of sunrays burning your head you’ll see an eagle here:

S'Aliga rock

Let’s go on.

barren landscape

The Mediterranean Sea adds its fancy touch here and there.

Mediterranean landscape

The waters that surround Cap de Creus are pristine, crystal clear, wonderful.

crystal clear Mediterranean

Wandering in absolute solitude through this strange landscape you soon realize that the place is full of surrealistic monsters. Don’t panic and keep your mouth closed. Let them sleep.

Surrealistic monster 1

Surrealistic monster 2

Dalí's visions in Tudela

Tudela rock

Near Cala Culip

Mediterranean jaws

Scientifics in general, and geologists in particular, most probably won’t see any monster here. They would tell you that the Tudela’s outcrops are among the best in the world, due to both their quality and quantity. They will see ductile deformation structures, folding structures, metamorphic rocks, metamorphism-plutonism-deformation relations, shear zones and forms of erosion practically everywhere.

But they are deathly wrong. Those things are neither rocks nor plutoanythings.

For instance, a geologist would tell you that this thing (pic below) is a Cambro-Ordovician schist, formed around 500 million years ago:

Strange rock

But really that thing is THE ENIGMA OF DESIRE.

The original “The Enigma of Desire” painting is exposed these days in Munich, Germany, in the Pinakothek der Moderne, in an exhibition called Traum Bilder (dream paintings).

Here below you have another example of the abovementioned geologists’ absurd interpretations. Any of them would tell you that this thing here below is a pegmatite rock:

great masturbator Dalí

Totally wrong! That bizarre thing is really the … You’d rather visit the Reina Sofía Museum, in Madrid (or its website)  and you’ll see what Salvador Dalí saw.

In the Paratge de Tudela it is displayed some info about that rock and the corresponding painting by Dalí…

Panel Paratge de Tudela

Dalí was a genius, no doubt. Scientifics are unable to find the innermost nature of things. Dalí found it with his insightful eye.

Wandering again and again through the Cap de Creus natural park, Dalí got inspiration to create surprising paintings, like “The maximum speed of Raphael’s Madonna”, “Deoxyribonucleicacid Arabs”or such an absolute masterpiece as “Christ of St John of The Cross

Cap de Creus rocks

Pegmatite, schist, gneiss, quartzite, slate … How many useful English words I am learning today!

The sun is killing me.

I am hungry.

Cove in black and white

This area is too dangerous for one’s mind.

I do not understand why, when I order a grilled lobster I am never served a cooked telephone” (Salvador Dalí)

Culip cove

I think I am going to take a bath in the sea.

I need it. I also need to eat something.

Dalí was right: this is “a mythological place made for gods rather than for humans

Cala Culip

Since I don’t smoke, I decided to grow a mustache – it is better for the health.

However, I always carried a jewel-studded cigarette case in which, instead of tobacco, were carefully placed several mustaches, Adolphe Menjou style. I offered them politely to my friends: ‘Mustache? Mustache? Mustache?’

Nobody dared to touch them. This was my test regarding the sacred aspect of mustaches.” (Salvador Dalí)

Oh my! This is the tranquil and wild Cala Culip!

Culip cove

Here we go!

Mediterranean cala Culip



Port Lligat Dalí

That blurred white house in the background is Dalí’s house in Portlligat.

That sharp piece of bread in the foreground is my lunch.

Coming more or less soon: Part 3 of Covetotop’s groundbreaking series about Don Salvador Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Púbol.


About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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25 Responses to Salvador Dalí (Part 2): Inspiration

  1. Amanda says:

    Wow what a cool post. Muy bien hecho! Gracias por toda la informacion. I really like Dali and had no idea the extent to which the landscape influenced even his non-landscape works. Que chevere!

  2. Tyran Grillo says:

    This is fascinating! Would love to go there with a sketchpad myself…

  3. a ferreira says:

    What a – very, very, very! – splendid post! The landscape is mind-blowing (you did capture its essence!) and I’m staring at it as much as I used to stare at the Christ of St. John that was hanging at my parents’…
    How much interesting information we are learning here today!

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you! Artists’ comments –like yours- are very encouraging. Although time spent staring at “The Christ of St. John of the Cross” painting, by Dalí, is one thousand trillion times more rewarding than that spent reading my musings 🙂

  4. wonderful post – very informative and beautifully written – thank you

  5. Bama says:

    Thanks to this post now I know that even for a person like Dalí needs inspiration from the nature for his out-of-the-worldy artworks. They’re from this very planet after all. Thanks for writing this post!

  6. Stunning, had no idea that this existed. I love how you continually surprise me with your revelations of your personal landscape.

  7. Also, the Christ of St. John of the Cross is one of my favorites.

  8. harri8here says:

    I imagine he would be very much tickled by this post, C2T. I love the choice of masterpieces you chose to represent. It’s no wonder those rock formations inspired him so; they really are suggestive of living forms, and more. Hugely fascinating, thanks so much. The photograph with the white sailing boat caught between the nose and eye socket is superb.

    • Covetotop says:

      Cape Creus and its surroundings are certainly very inspiring. It is very easy to blog about it. You only need to click the camera in whatever direction and you get an interesting picture. But I am afraid that if instead of taking pictures with my camera, I painted paintings with my paintbrush, the results wouldn’t be interesting at all. The real inspiration is reserved for real artists, like Dalí. Thank you HR8!

  9. Christina says:

    Excellent post Covetotop! Thanks for sharing this incredible landscape. With the rocky textures, wind-blown trees and weather carved shapes, I can really see what inspired Dali. Also, wonderful job connecting the physical features to real pieces of art. (That is not to say that the rocks are not art themselves! The rocks are just not in a museum.)

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for commenting, Femme au Collier Jaune. Certainly some of those rocks seem pieces of modern art, but thanks God they are 500 million years old and consequently all of them have lost their copy rights. I am free to publish their pics at a reasonable resolution 🙂

  10. What an eye-opener. Thanks for this truly great post, Covetotop!

    And… now i know Dali’ rocks! 😉

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