In his long and flamboyant career, artist Salavador Dalí was known as much for his and attention grabbing stunts as he was for his considerable creative talent both as a draftsman, and a creative force. He was Born Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis of Dalí de Púbol on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. Dalí began exhibiting his drawings at the age of 15, and by the early 1920s was part of the art scene in Madrid with friends and contemporaries such as Pepín Bello, Luis Buñuel, and Federico García Lorca. Dalí ’s early styles moved seamlessly through realism and cubism earning him the respect of revered idols Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso.
His classical influences included Raphael, Bronzino, Francisco de Zurbarán, Vermeer and Velázquez. Dalí’s trademark moustache was fashioned after that of another hero, Spanish master painter Diego Velázquez.
It was not until 1929, however, the year that Dali met his muse that his style became that for which we know him today. Interestingly the year that he met Gala is the same year in which he collaborated with his friend Luis Buñuel on the short film Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog). Not surprisingly it is reported that Dalí overstated his influence and involvement in that film that become a touchstone of the Surrealist movement.
Elena Ivanovna Diakonova met Dalí in August 1929. He christened her ‘Gala’ and she became both his life long muse, and the love of his life. Ten years Dali’s senior, Gala had emigrated from Moscow by way of Switzerland where she had partnered with the French Surrealist poet Paul Éluard, and spent several years in a ménage à trois with Éluard and the artist Max Ernst. During this time she is said to have been an inspiration to other artists as well including Louis Aragon, and André Breton.
Gala married Dalí in 1934 and was muse and model for both painting and sculpture. Dali began to sign his paintings with both his and her name claiming rather implausably that “it is mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures”. Much speculation has been written about the nature of their relationship, whether a marriage of convenience, or if Dalí had encouraged Gala’s extramarital affairs with younger artists. What is clear is that the two became inseparable, Gala was model, muse, and business manager.
They also became more isolated.
Dali’s belief that Surrealism could exist in an apolitical context put him at odds with fellow artists, many of whom were members of the French Communist Party. His increasing affinity to Fascism and Franco’s Nationalist movement caused him to be expelled from the Surrealist movement. Both his political views and his penchant for self aggrandizement caused his contemporaries to refer to him in the past tense, as if he were already dead.
As WWII raged through Europe, Dali and Gala were able to escape to the USA and spent time between New York and Monterey California. During this period Dalí continued to work and develop some of his most iconic images. Dalí’s return to Catholicism often saw Gala represented as the Virgin Mary, or other vaguely saint like representations.
In 1948 Dalí and Gala were able to return to Spain, and spent years living and working in Port Lligat, on the coast near Cadaqués. Dali eventually bought Gala a castle in Púbol where she would spend weeks at a time, alone, or in being attended to by younger artists whom she supported. Dalí himself was only allowed admission with written permission by Gala herself.
In 1982 at the age of 87 Gala died at her castle and was buried there. After her death and in failing health Dalí moved into her home, and only lived until his death on January 23, 1989. Casa Púbol was opened to the public as the Gala-Dalí Castle House Museum in 1996.
Woodshed Art Auctions is proud to offer two unusual original figure drawings by Dalí, one signed with his Dalí Gala monogram. Both will be available at our Prestige Collection Sale on Weds September 20, 2017.