Gala, Salvador Dalí’s muse
Ielena Diakonova Ivanovna, Gala, as she was known by, was born in 1894 in Kazan, the Capital city of Tatarstan(Russia) and died in Portlligat (Girona) in 1982.
She remained reserved about her private life, not to mention her public life along side Salvador Dalí. There are those who know of her spectacular marriage to Dalí in front of the press, especially during their stay in the United States.
Now we have the opportunity to know more about such a mysterious woman thanks to the publication of her unedited diary by the Dalinan Studies Foundation, indeed it’s a book highly recommended to read. The book is of great interest. It’s prologue, written by Montse Alguer, highlights another side to Gala’s personality and not to mention the publication of Gala’s writings that were found and have finally surfaced as these give us a deeper insight into this profound woman.
We know that Gala had two older brothers, Vadim and Nicolai and also a younger sister, Lydia. She was a good student and avid reader. On family evenings in Moscow, where she spent her childhood, there were many an evening spent listening to her father read Russian stories full of gory details which often caused nightmares and overstimuated the imagination of the young listeners.
Gala's father died when she was eleven years old and soon afterwards her mother married again this time to a lawyer whom Gala got on well with.
In 1912 she went to Switzerland in order to be admitted to the Clavadel sanatorium because of her bouts of tuberculosis. Whilst there, she met Paul Éluard and they got married in 1917. A year later, the couple had a daughter, Cécile. By then Paul was already a well-known poet and attended meetings with the leaders (André Breton, Philippe Soupault, Louis Aragon and others) of the Surrealist movement, Gala often went along with him.
In 1922 Gala started a relationship with the painter Max Ernst, they broke up in 1924, it was her introduction into the world of painting as she posed as a model for several portraits. We should also mention her friendship with the poet René Char and particularly with René Crevel.
How Gala and Salvador Dalí met
In 1929 Gala first bumped into Salvador Dalí and they would not separate until his death. They met in Paris, where Dalí was filming "Un Chien Andalou" with Luis Buñuel. The Belgian poet and Art gallery director Camille Goemans introduced Paul Eluard to Salvador Dalí ; Dalí invited him along with his wife and daughter, Luis Buñuel, Goemans and his partner as well as René Magritte and his wife to spend the summer altogether in Cadaqués.
Dalí wrote in A Secret Life, "Gala was destined to be my Gradiva (name comes from the title of a novel by W.Jensen, the main character of which was Sigmund Freud; Gradiva is the heroine and is healed psychologically by the main character), the one who progresses, my victory, my wife". Thereafter, Gala stays close by the painter. From 1929 onwards, her biography will be linked to the great genius.
As for Dalí, Gala represented love in capital letters, his muse, the model par excellence in many of his works. She acted as secretary, even manager also it is said that she wrote some chapters of A Secret Life, she also introduces him to the world of mysticism and the esoteric, several sources reveal that she liked to use tarot cards and often did so and that is why the great genius dedicated his Universal Tarot cards to her something which will soon be discussed in another article.
Gala was a bold, confident, seductive, enigmatic, versatile, passionate, intuitive woman with a strong personality who possessed values that were often advanced for the time, essentially a librated woman who liked to enjoy life, writing, art, fashion, indeed, the ultimate diva for the great genius.
We would not know of Dalí’s life without this great woman but we are sure that there was more to her. Today we pay tribute to Gala Galuixka, Oliva, and Lioness and many the other names Dalí called her, even Bumble Bee because as he said, "...and I have discovered that she carries all the essentials to make honey from my thoughts in the busy hive that is my brain".