Surrealism on the Costa del Sol: Dali and Marbella

Surrealism on the Costa del Sol: Dali and Marbella

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If you’re ever at a loss for something to do on a warm summer’s morning, head to central Marbella and admire the town’s unique collection of weird and wonderful Salvador Dali sculptures. Clare McKenna reports

Unless you're a bit of an art buff, or you habitually read the plaques that adorn public monuments, you could easily miss this display by one of Spain's most famous sons. 

Salvador Dali - celebrated artist, sculpture, painter and photographer – was born in Figueres Catalonia in 1904 and died there in 1989. Although he doesn't appear to have any obvious links with Marbella, the town pays homage to his work and his memory with a permanent outdoor exhibition in one of its most picturesque spots.

The Avenida del Mar, which is the main walkway between the town centre and the Paseo Maritimo, is home to a collection of 10 of Dali's sculptures, cast in bronze and signed by the man himself. With its fountains, cafes and fabulous sea views, it's the perfect place to admire his work and while away a few pleasant hours. If you're an art aficionado, check out the art shop and gallery that runs alongside the sculptures. It sells a variety of books, prints, photographs and pieces of artwork by Dali and his compatriot Pablo Picasso.

It wasn't always like this though; several years ago the old Parque de la Alameda was a run down and virtually abandoned area, which was crying out for redevelopment.

As part of his programme of improvements around Marbella, former mayor Jesus Gil arranged for the purchase of the collection of Dali statues. They were to form the centrepiece of the newly redeveloped park, along with a series of fountains, landscaped areas and benches. A gleaming marble floor was then installed and the result of the work is what residents and visitors to the town now enjoy every day. 

Each of the sculptures bears a name plaque and a Dali signature – although they are rumoured to be copies rather than originals – and has all the surrealist hallmarks of his most famous works.

The first statue you come across from the town end of the parque is Perseo, depicting the beheading of Medusa by the mythological Greek hero Perseus.

Continue walking towards the sea and the next one up is Gala Gradiva, reputedly one of the loves of Dali's life. Then you'll see the statues of Mercurio, Trajano a Caballo (Trajano riding a horse) Gala Asomada a la Ventana (Gala at the window), Caballo con Jinete Tropezando (Horse and jockey stumbling), Elefante Cosmico (Cosmic elephant), Mujer Desnuda Subiendo La Escalera (Nude woman walking up stairs), Don Quijote Sentado (Don Quixote sitting down) and finally Hombre Sobre Delfín (Man above dolphin). 

And if that's not enough Dali for one day, there's one more chance to view a piece of his work. The largest and possibly the most distinctive of his sculptures sits on the Cristamar roundabout at the entrance to Puerto Banus.

The massive Rhino statue, which is officially known as Rinoceronte Vestido con Puntillas weighs three tonnes and was donated to the council in 2004 to celebrate the centenary of Dali's birth. Go and have a look next time you're out shopping!

This article first appeared in the magazine Dreamlife, which has a circulation of 60,000 in the Costa del Sol. See:


Photo credit: Estelle Lima Photographies


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