“Behind every great man is a great woman” has never been truer than in the case of Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala Dalí. No disrespect to Sal and his artistic genius, but Gala was at least as interesting as the mustachioed one. The new ‘Gala Salvador Dalí. A Room of One’s Own in Púbol’ exhibition at MNAC explores the life and artistic output of this enigmatic muse-turned-artist.
Elena Diaknova becomes Gala Dalí
Gala Dalí was born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, but came to be known as Gala. “I name my wife: Gala, Galushka, Gradiva; Oliva, for the oval shape of her face and the color of her skin; Oliveta, diminutive for Olive; and its delirious derivatives Oliueta, Oriueta, Buribeta, Buriueteta, Suliueta, Solibubuleta, Oliburibuleta, Ciueta, Liueta. I also call her Lionette, because when she gets angry she roars like the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion.” How Salvador remembered all those different nicknames, nobody knows.
But what we do know is that when this artistic power couple got together, it wasn’t long before Salvador was co-signing his wife’s name on the artworks he produced.
Salvador himself wrote, “It’s mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures.” That almost sounds sweet and not at all weird, right?
Well, once he borrowed a white Rolls Royce Phantom II from a friend, packed it full of nearly 500 kgs of cauliflower, and drove it to the Sorbonne to give a lecture. So his life was as unconventional as his artistic output. And in Gala, Salvador found the perfect partner in crime. They once ruffled some feathers when they appeared at a New York costume party dressed as the Lindbergh baby and his kidnapper. Too soon? Yes, in this case that was the consensus.
Time to shine a light on Gala
But in 2018 it is about time (and not too soon at all) to explore the role Gala Dalí played in the artistic process and outsized reputation of Salvador Dalí. This exhibition, ‘A Room of One’s Own in Púbol‘ from 6 July to 14 October at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) in Barcelona, dives into the world of this fascinating luminary of the art world. Known as co-collaborator with her husband, and the subject of a number of Salvador’s finest works – including ‘Galatea of the Spheres‘ and ‘Leda Atomica‘ – there’s so much to get to know about the woman known as Gala.
Disclaimer: All images were provided by Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya on behalf of Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí