The Places That Inspired Great Works

By Google Arts & Culture

Discover where some of the most famous creatives have felt inspired

Inspiration comes in many different forms. For many artists, musicians and authors it’s often the places they’ve visited by chance, the nooks they’ve found away from it all or even their own homes that prove the best catalyst for creativity.

To explore the various ways inspiration has come to some of the most well-known creatives, we take a Street View tour of the places that have inspired great works over the centuries. From a deserted Scottish cave to a busy McDonald’s restaurant, there’s something to inspire everyone!

SPAIN FOUNDATION by Robin TownsendAgencia EFE

1. Salvador Dalí: Port Lligat, Spain

Port Lligat is a little village located in a small bay on the Costa Brava. Salvador Dalí called it "the ideal place for my work" and "a unique planetary case".

Dalí spent 40 years building a labyrinthine house here with his partner and muse, Gala. The house contained a glass floor for Dali to study feet when drawing. Here you can see Dalí's white house in the background.

2. Felix Mendelssohn: Fingal’s Cave

German composer Felix Mendelssohn found inspiration in all sorts of places, most often from the landscapes he visited. In 1832, Mendelssohn debuted The Hebrides, a piece inspired by his visit to Fingal’s Cave, a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.

The cave has proved inspirational for many creatives over the years: J.M.W Turner painted it; 18th century Scottish poet James Macpherson wrote about it; and even Pink Floyd penned an instrumental track titled, you guessed it, Fingal’s Cave.

Staffa, Fingal's Cave by J.M.W. Turner (From the collection of Yale Center for British Art)

Staffa, Fingal's Cave by Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775–1851, BritishYale Center for British Art

3. Mary Shelley: Castle Frankenstein

What inspired Mary Shelley's gothic tale? Rumour has it she was inspired by Frankenstein Castle near the River Rhine in Mühltal, Germany. Scientist and alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel was born in the castle in 1673, and he had a penchant for horror himself. Tales of the alchemist suggest he dug up human body parts and did experiments on them. It’s said Shelley heard about Dippel during her visit and there the inspiration for her hair-raising novel began.

4. Paul Cézanne: Montagne St-Victoire

The mountain of Sainte-Victoire is a distinctive landmark near Aix-en-Provence, France, and was one of Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne's favorite subjects. From the 1880s to the early 1900s, the vista proved a big inspiration to the artist and he created a series of paintings after first laying eyes on the mountain while going past on a train. The changing landscape of the mountain is what Cézanne enjoyed most as it allowed him to play around with color and composition depending on the season, time of day and angle.

Montagne Saint-Victoire by Paul Cézanne (From the collection of Musée d'Orsay, Paris)

Montagne Saint-victoire by Paul CézanneMusée d’Orsay, Paris

5. J.R.R. Tolkien: Puzzlewood

Tolkien’s descriptions of Middle Earth in Lord of The Rings are said to be partly based on Puzzlewood in Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean in England. Tolkien was said to be a regular visitor to Puzzlewood and found ample material in the 14 acres of mystical woodland.

6. Wesley Willis: McDonald's

In cult artist Wesley Willis’ 1995 song Rock’n’Roll McDonald’s, he sings: “McDonald’s is a place to rock.” The ode to the fast food restaurant is said to be inspired by a flagship McDonald’s and museum in Chicago.

In 2018 the building was completely demolished. It is said a new iteration will be built on the site, but if you can still check out the original building on Street View.

7. John Lennon: Strawberry Field

For the Beatles' 1967 song Strawberry Fields Forever, John Lennon called upon a place he visited as a child in Liverpool. Strawberry Field was the name of the Salvation Army Children’s Home and Lennon and his friends used to play in the gardens. Though the building itself was torn town in the 1970s, Beatles fans can still visit the Liverpool site and the strawberry-colored gates adorned with various fans' graffiti.

8. Georgia O’Keeffe: Ghost Ranch

Modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe was heavily inspired by the American desert landscape and the cultural history of New Mexico. The artist’s home and studio was in Albuquerque, but she also kept a summer home at Ghost Ranch, a 21,000-acre retreat and education center located close to the village of Abiquiú in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where she painted many of her landscapes.

The Cliff Chimneys by Georgia O'Keeffe (From the collection of Milwaukee Art Museum)

The Cliff Chimneys by Georgia O'KeeffeMilwaukee Art Museum

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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