In Pictures: Salvador Dalí’s Surrealist Home in the Mediterranean

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Casa Dalí by Coco Capítan
Photography by Coco Capítan. Courtesy of Apartamento

Published by Apartamento, Coco Capítan’s new book captures the surrealist icon’s home and workshop on the shores of Spain’s Costa Brava

“I cannot think of a moment that was completely life-changing. It’s just been like a constant in which things get a little bit better and a little bit better.” Reflecting on the road travelled to reach Casa Dalí – a new book from Barcelona-based publisher Apartamento – visual artist and the photographer behind the title Coco Capítan recites an appendix of educational and professional milestones that vehemently dismisses the romanticised ideal of a single moment being responsible for what is an undeniably impressive career so far.

Hailing from Seville, in the Andalusia region of Spain, Capítan relocated to London at the age of 17 to study Photography at the University of Arts of London, and later an MA in Fine Art Photography at the prestigious Royal College of Art. Having since developed a practice of fusing revealing, hand-scrawled poetry with photography, she has been embraced by publishers, fashion houses, advertisers alike. Campaigns for Gucci, Dior and United Colors of Benetton see the artist framing brands conceived decades before her birth as canvases for her creative vision, while her portraits and editorial work narrate humbling stories of personal discovery and heroes acquainted. In Casa Dalí, which offers a rare glimpse into icon of surrealism Salvador Dalí’s home and workshop on the shores of Spain’s Costa Brava, Capítan’s photos reflect an admittedly new-found curiosity for the Spanish artist’s creative process and sit alongside an introduction from architect Oscar Tusquets, who recalls his first visit to the house, and the start of a 15-year friendship with Dalí.

“In reality the house is a few sailors’ storage rooms, looking at the sea, put together through the years,” explains Capítan. She continues wistfully, “Of course, you could do that at the time, but now, in Spain, you would never get the permission.” Capturing a sun-baked abode basking in the radiance of the Mediterranean village of Portlligat – where Dalí boldly proclaimed that he was “the first Spaniard to see the sun rise” – Capítan’s photographs uncover a side to the famed artist’s career that she wasn’t necessarily expecting to connect with. “I don’t think his paintings have aged so well, but I really like him as a spacial artist,” she says. “I enjoy the way he works with the space, although more the exteriors than the interiors, such as the egg on top of the house which features on the cover of the book.” Unearthing a surprise familiarity to her own multiplicitous sense of artistic self-expression, the photographer took pleasure in soothing her curiosity in the house itself and discovering a part of Dalí’s approach that she could more sincerely relate to. She says, “I really care about the space around me and I spend a lot of time thinking about what my house should look like, so I enjoyed that part of his house, and I don’t think I was expecting it.”

A book publisher born in 2015 of the interiors magazine of the same name, Apartamento has spent the last eight years publishing revealing and passionately in-depth explorations of creatives’ homes. Co-founder Omar Sosa and Architectural Digest senior editor Hannah Martin revealed Nicola L: Life and Art earlier this year, while Capítan herself has previously worked on several projects with the publishing house. Most notably, she was commissioned to shoot a series of portraits of the late photographer Ouka Leele. Examining how that collaboration led her to the Dalí project, Capítan says, “She was a Spanish photographer, and very important for the La Movida generation – the counterculture that appeared in Spain in the 1980s after the death of Franco. She was a huge inspiration for me growing up, and they asked me to take her portrait at her place. Very sadly, she passed away perhaps three months after we had taken the portraits, so they will have been probably, if not the last ones, one of the very last official portraits that she ever took. I think that experience made me closer with Apartamento.”

Revealing that she and Apartamento are in discussion about a variety of possible future projects, Capítan finds herself dissecting what it is that implored her to take on the documentation of Dalí’s unique Costa Brava home, despite disagreeing with some of the more political aspects of his lifestyle. “I guess I did this project mostly because of curiosity,” she says. “I had never been to the house in Cadaqués and I wanted to see it.” Returning to the subject later in the conversation she adds, “I try to remain open-minded, and I think that's an important part of my practice, you know – because it's only through looking that we can learn things.”

Casa Dalí by Coco Capítan is published by Apartamento, and is out now.