Have No Fear of Perfection - You'll Never Reach It

This and other famous quotes of Salvador Dali, my lifelong favourite artist, make you smirk a little bit, but they very accurately describe...

This and other famous quotes of Salvador Dali, my lifelong favourite artist, make you smirk a little bit, but they very accurately describe how well aware he was of his own genius: "I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the person grow to look like his portrait" or "At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since". This past summer, I was extremely grateful to visit The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, a museum that hosts the second largest collection of his finest artwork in the world. You too want to get a quick glimpse? Click a link below or scroll down.

Before you even get inside the museum, and it was such a delight after the cruel summer sun, the very building suggests you are about to enter a special place.
Designed by a world-renowned local Yann Weymouth, the building looks very surrealistic much like the artwork it hosts. 
Although feels very airy thanks to its glass entrance, the buildings is meant to withstand category 5 hurricanes with its 18-inch concrete walls. This is what I like about a contemporary architecture that often tricks you into believing something unreal. I found this place very eye-pleasing, and it actually reminded me of Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, albeit on a smaller scale.
Speaking about the place. The Dali Museum is nestled right downtown St. Petersburg by the seashore. The area is so picture-perfect and... deserted due to the unbearable summer heat. I wish it was less brutal allowing us to explore the surroundings. I only learned after the fact that there is a beautiful garden maze outside the museum... But, there is always a next time.
The best decision once inside the museum was to take a guided tour. Man, we would have missed so much had we not taken one. The tour is 100% free (with a valid admission ticket), lasts about 45 minutes and runs by volunteers obsessed with the artwork of Dali. Those preferring their own pace should take an audio guide.
The museum started as a private collection of Reynolds and Eleanor Morse from Ohio, the two philanthropists who would later become close friends of Salvador Dali. According to the open sources, the museum's collection includes 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and objets d'art, and an extensive archival library.
The Morses' collection started from the painting called "Daddy Longlegs of the Evening-Hope!" which they bought from Dali in 1943. It was also Dali's first painting in the United States during his exile from war in Europe in 1940-1948. "It is a commentary on the horror of World War II, and prophetic of the role air power was to play in the war. According to an old French peasant legend, a daddy longlegs seen at evening is a symbol of good luck. So Dali still offers hope in spite of the painting's bleak atmosphere" (thedali.org).
Surrealism is not something you can easily crack and tell with certainty what an author had in mind. To help solve this problem, Dali gave long names to his artwork, often explaining what is on the painting and even what you need to do to better understand it. For instance, one of Dali's most famous and counterfeited paintings - "Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln-Homage to Rothko" - tells you that you need to step 20 metres back in order to see a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Isn't it amusing?
If you think that Salvador Dali was a bit strange (yeah, maybe he went a little too far with his mustachios), here is one fact about his parents: they believed that Salvador was a reincarnation of their late son who died exactly nine months before he was born. And, of course, their late son bore the same name - Salvador. When Dali was five, his parents took him to the grave of his brother and told what they believed in. This probably caused a psychological trauma for Dali that he was carrying for the rest of his life trying to prove he wasn't his brother. "Portrait of My Dead Brother" that he painted in the age of 59 is a great example of that. What's remarkable about his painting is (you'll need to zoom in to see) that the boy's face is made of cherries and melted chocolate!
Millions of people recognize Dali's most famous painting "Persistence of Memory", on display at the New York's Museum of Modern Arts (MOMA). But few people (myself included) are aware that there is a re-creation of it called "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory". I'm not going to tell you what they both symbolize, you should check it out yourself. It's worth your time. As the matter of fact, MOMA had a chance to buy "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory" when  Dali finished it in 1954, but refused to do so thinking that it was nothing special. What do you think?
Dali really loved his wife Gala and featured her on a number of his paintings. He even signed some of his paintings as herself. 
The museum's cafe also bears Gala's name. Dali would be pleased.
I wanted to finish my story with another Dali's quote. "“Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy —the joy of being Salvador Dali— and I ask myself in rapture: What wonderful things is this Salvador Dali going to accomplish today?” Come visit the museum, you won't regret. 

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