A Spanish Experience

Currently on the Barcelona: Civilization in the Western Mediterranean program, Catherine Gao, '14, shares an excerpt from her blog titled, "Figueres and Girona."

Currently on the Barcelona: Civilization in the Western Mediterranean program, Catherine Gao, '14, shares an excerpt from her blog titled, "Figueres and Girona."

Over the weekend, we took a train to Figueres and Girona. Figueres is the hometown of Salvador Dalí and the location of his namesake museum and in Girona, we visited a cathedral complete with a maze-like garden. (But seriously, we almost got lost on the way out. It was freaky.)

The Dalí museum was incredible and reminded me why I love art so much in general, and also made me realize why I'm not a huge fan of Renaissance art. When we visited the Louvre, while everything was beautiful and obviously the work of talented artists, it was very stiff – everything in heavy, ornate gold frames, the goal of the paintings to imitate reality accurately. I'm impressed by an artist's ability to render details so accurately that one has to do a double-take to remind oneself that it is still a painting, to have such a mastery over proportions and lines and perspective that our photograph-trained minds can read the scene as a three-dimensional one, as accurate as any picture, but I'm not inspired by it. There's no creativity, to me, in painting what already exists. What really blows me away is artists like Dalí and Gaudí (the first two that come to mind since I'm living in such close quarters with their work) who dreamed up ideas and created them solely from the stuff in their brain. Nowhere in the world will you see anything real that resembles anything Dalí painted, nor anything Gaudí designed architecturally. They, of course, got inspiration from things in real life, but the products of their work are so different and the exact manifestations could not have been produced by anyone else. I'm no art historian, but I am an artist, and to me, that is art: the fantasy and the creativity and having the ideas to combine and create things that have never been seen or dreamed.

I won't post any pictures of things in the museum because, well, photographs of artwork are quite a sad excuse for seeing the original. So all I'll say here is that if you're ever in Barcelona, I'd highly recommend taking the train to Figueres to see the Dalí museum. One of the surprising highlights was the jewels exhibit – it's said that the greatest artists do not limit themselves by medium, and this is absolutely true of Dalí – his perhaps lesser-known brooches and necklaces and charms, created of gold and gems, are as incredible as his most famous paintings. My favorite piece was called "The Royal Heart", a creation of a heart of rubies encased in gold and actually beating - expanding and contracting – on its own, as if it were a real heart.

Below are a few of the photos I took while walking around Figueres and Girona.

Text and photos submitted by Catherine Gao, '14.