As well as my day job and my blogging hobby I’m also a (very) part-time artist, and so was excited to be contacted by author Jackie De Burca to review her book Salvador Dalí At Home. Dalí is one of my all-time favourite artists so I was looking forward to learning more about his life behind the scenes. Jackie De Burca gifted me a hardcover copy of Salvador Dalí At Home in exchange for an honest review.
***AD: This post features a press sample but all thoughts are my own***
Author: Jackie De Burca
Published: October 2018
Salvador Dalí at Home explores the influence of Catalan culture and tradition, Dalí’s home life and the places he lived, on his life and work. Fully illustrated with over 130 illustrations of his famous work, as well as lesser known pieces, archive imagery, contemporary landscapes and personal photographs, the book provides uniquely accessible insight into the people and places that shaped this iconic artist and how the homes and landscapes of his life relate to his work.
(Taken from Goodreads)
I grew up quite inspired by Dalí after first witnessing his painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus at around eleven years old, and studied him throughout my Art & Design GCSE and A Level. I know a fair bit about him artistically and analytically from this, however there I learned much less about his personal life.
Salvador Dalí At Home by Jackie De Burca is a comprehensive biography of Dalí and his life, using a variety of different sources including his own semi-fictional autobiography and a couple of well-known biographies of him from the past. The book takes us through his entire journey, starting with his father before he was born and ending with the legacy Dalí left behind after his death. This wasn’t actually what I was expecting from the book, given the “At Home” portion of the title, however I understand that this book is part of a series focused on different artists, and I appreciate the depth in which the author goes into.
The first thing that really stood out to me was how beautifully presented the book is – it’s a hardcover, with glossy, text-filled pages that are broken up with high-quality images of Dalí’s paintings, personal life, and home environments. Reading it is a lovely experience, with each chapter fairly short meaning you can dip in and out of it as you please. I read it over the festive period, enjoying a chapter or two each evening in my reading nook alongside a hot chocolate or coffee.
The book is written in an informative way without the opinion that some artistic biographies come with. I felt this worked well with Dalí as the subject matter because his life invites so much speculation, meaning it can be very hard to decipher between fact and fiction when it comes to his accounts (which De Burca makes mention of, as this is an issue with his own autobiography). The detail included is immense, and the reader is given a comprehensive understanding of the most important parts of his life, such as the influence his hometown of Figueres had on him, his links with the various religious and political situations throughout his adult years, and the impact his wife Gala had on him from their first meeting right up to the last stages of his life. From a biographical perspective there was certainly enough information to paint a full picture of Dalí (excuse the pun), however I would have liked a little more artistic analysis in parts – this was featured, however some paintings didn’t get the discussion I felt they warranted.
The most striking thing about Salvador Dalí At Home is how it focuses so much more on the aspects of Dalí we don’t hear about… We all know about his extravagance and bizarre tendencies, but not so much the almost cripplingly shy, mentally conflicted Dalí that hides underneath. The softer, gentler Dalí, with his passions and paranoias, and sometimes fraught relationships with other artists. We see him as if a fly on the wall, witnessing his personality behind the scenes and discovering why he was the way he was through his childhood and Catalan roots. Once you’ve read the book in its entirety you realise just how misleading a lot of publicity surrounding Dalí actually was, whether intentionally by him or not.
Dalí certainly had an interesting life, with many divided on their opinion of him. Salvador Dalí At Home invites fact rather than bias into its depiction of him, allowing you to make up your mind either way. As someone who adores the paintings of Dalí, as well as many facets of his personality (though not all), I found this book to be such an insightful and fascinating read that is really quite engaging, and it’s even inspired me to go on a trip of the Dalínian Triangle in Catalonia.
If you too have an interest in Dalí and want to find out more about his life then this comprehensive account by Jackie De Burca will certainly enlighten you, giving you a much better understanding of where the ideas behind his art came from.
If you’d like to purchase Salvador Dalí At Home by Jackie De Burca then you can do so using the following links:
Jackie De Burca is a travel, arts and culture writer and creator of Travel Inspires, a website providing comprehensive travel guides from bloggers, tour guides and other experts.
She realised one of her lifelong dreams when the publishing house, Frances Lincoln, asked if she would like to write the book, Salvador Dalí at Home.
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Jackie has adored animals, nature and art since childhood. She has lived in Greece, London and Spain.
(Taken from Goodreads)
Who do you consider to be your favourite artist? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin! You can read some of my other non-fiction reviews here: