Why Monterey? Why 17?

This is a question we receive quite frequently at Dali17. Many people do not realize that the Spanish artist lived and painted here on the Monterey Peninsula throughout the 1940’s. During his stay, Salvador Dali entertained and made quite an impression on the local art community. He considered Monterey to be one of  the only places in the United Stated where he was able to enjoy life while, simultaneously gaining inspiration for his art. A friend quoted Dali as saying, “he would always work in California, preferably on the Monterey Peninsula, because it reminded him of his native Spain. Also, people could not disturb him here as they did in other places.”

After the Nazis invaded France, Dali and his wife Gala (who were living in Paris at the time), fled Europe to the United Stated where they made their way to the Monterey Peninsula. Upon their arrival in 1941, Dali and Gala first lived at the Del Monte Hotel – now the Naval Postgraduate School, which is just a mere two miles from Dali17. The Dali’s arrival at the Del Monte ties the Dali17 collection to the area because the hotel was a part of the original 17-Mile Drive. It was said that hotel guests could take a carriage ride beginning at the Del Monte Hotel leading through Monterey and Pebble Beach, and then loop back to the hotel making it a 17 mile stroll. This local history has provided the title of the permanent exhibition as a way of reintroducing Salvador Dali’s local history.

Dali contributed immensely to the local art scene and was an early member of the Carmel Art Association. He also loved to entertain and was known to throw many lavish gatherings; one of which included the infamous party in 1941, A Surrealistic Night in an Enchanted Forest.

After a seven year span living in Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel, Dali and Gala returned to Spain in 1948 as World War II had finally come to an end.


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