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When Dalí lost Gala: the love that almost ended with the surrealist genius

The artist lived a passionate relationship to the point of obsession with the only woman he ever loved.

Salvador Dalí was one of the most extravagant artists of all time. The people who knew him knew that he was someone strange, but undoubtedly “a genius.” His anxious personality, as well as the multiple episodes of paranoia he suffered, led him to have several phobias.

After a passionate romance with the illustrated poet Federico García Lorca in their youth, a new love came into the life of the surrealist painter. Gala, would become the woman of his life, with whom he was united for more than 50 years: she also became his muse and the person he fell in love with from the first moment.

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It was in the summer of 1929 that their lives changed forever. The artist met Elena Ivánovna Diákonova, better known as Gala, thanks to her husband, Paul Éluard, who introduced Dalí into the surrealist circle of Marx Ernst, and André Bretón.

Dalí's obsession with Gala

One of the most important colleagues for the painter was Luis Buñuel, who in his book of memoirs described how uncomfortable it was for him, the obsession that Dalí had with Gala. “Overnight, Dalí was no longer the same,” he recounts in his memoirs. “All concordance of ideas disappeared between us, to the point that I gave up working with him on the script of The Golden Age. He only talked about the Gala, repeating everything she said. A total transformation.”

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Gala and Dalí began to frequent each other and soon engaged in an affair, since she was still married, although it was not strange for her husband since they both frequented other people. Salvador spoke about the first time he kissed the woman who would be his wife for more than two decades. “I kissed her lips, which parted. I had not kissed like that, deeply, and I was unaware that it could be done.” he described.

The relationship progressed, but several people did not like it, including the artist’s father, who reproached him for being with a married woman and even stopped talking to each other because of this fact. Who did not seem to mind was Gala’s own husband, who paid for a house in Montmartre.

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At the end of ‘34, the couple married at the Spanish consulate in Paris. Paul had divorced and remarried Nusch, a famous artist’s model, although it is said that he never stopped showing his devotion to Gala, writing her love letters and sleeping with her when she was already with Salvador.

This open marriage was never a problem. Gala had dozens of lovers whenever she felt like it, and it is said that Dalí also had relationships with other women and men to fulfill his fantasies. The problems of jealousy came when Gala had amorous relationships with several young men to whom she even bought houses and took them on trips wherever they wanted.

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Gala and Dalí’s old age

In the last years of Gala’s life, she went to live in a castle that Dalí gave her in Púbol. There he visited her frequently, but the relationship began to become turbulent as they would engage in constant fighting and a very toxic environment for both parts.

On June 10, 1982, Gala passed in Portlligat, and to fulfill her wishes, she was moved to the castle of Púbol, where she was buried. Dalí moved there for a while and then lived in the so-called Galatea tower. There he spent his last years depressed, old, and alone. The loss of his life partner left him desolated with delusions and isolated from the world.

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Dalí passed on January 23, 1989, and left his entire estate to the Spanish Government.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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