Борис Бурда
Author: Boris Burda
Journalist, writer, bard. Winner of the «Diamond Owl» intellectual game «What? Where? When?»
Liberal Arts
10 minutes for reading

OH, LOVE: Salvador Dali and the woman of celebration!

OH, LOVE: Salvador Dali and the woman of celebration!
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Арт-оформление: huxley.media via Photoshop

 

YOUTH YEARS

 

Nobody can even hope that the personal life of a man, unlike anyone else like Salvador Dali, will be more or less simple — not that kind of person. But the facts are documented, and you can try to make sense of it if you remember one important thing.

Everything that Dali himself said on the subject should be treated with extreme caution and doubt — to mystify people around him was his main hobby. This does not mean that everything he said is not true — that would be too simple: if Dali said yes, everyone would know that no.

And here everything is trickier: sophisticated lies and unbelievable truths, and something leading away — not to narrate, not to deceive, but only to completely disorient, for Dali’s non-disoriented interlocutors were annoying.

Nothing else would have made sense to expect from a child with such a biography. The genius was born three years after his older brother, who died of meningitis before he was born. He got both the name Salvador from him and a super-early psychological trauma. He hated rejection, immediately started to behave so obnoxiously that people preferred not to mess with him.

Once, he demanded a lollipop from a shop closed for siesta, and when they told him that he had to wait, he made such a scene that the police asked the shopkeeper to give this miracle in feathers what he wanted because it was so disgusting. He fought on occasion and, without reason, declared himself the winner of all children’s games (in the lost too) and always behaved differently from what others wanted — just to annoy.

 

Сальвадор Дали в Приже, 16 июня 1934 года
Salvador Dali in Paris, June 16, 1934 / wikipedia.org

 

Nevertheless, the obnoxious child was so gifted that he was sent away to study painting. In 1921, at the age of 17, Dali entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. His exam drawing seemed to keepers small — he destroyed it and did not rush to draw a new one, which infuriated both his father and examiners, he did everything at the last moment, but so brilliantly that he was still accepted.

The young man behaved in the academy in such a way that in 1924, he was kicked out, then again accepted, but in 1926, he was expelled without the right to restore. And what was to do teachers, if on an innocent question about the three most remarkable artists of the world (in his opinion), he replied that he would not answer because the teachers are incompetent to judge him?

But he learned to draw, and so well that even in Paris, where artists were in short supply, Dali was not lost. He befriended Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, became one of the maestros created in 1924 by Andre Breton new artistic trend — surrealism, together with Luis Buñuel filmed the remaining in the history of cinema film «An Andalusian Dog»… In general, the normal life of a significant artist with one exception — about his love affairs with no word or spirit.

 

A LADY FROM RUSSIA

 

A little bit earlier, the twenty-year-old wife of the land assessor Antonina Diakonova runs away from her husband, enters into a civil marriage with a lawyer Dmitry Gomberg and gives birth to four children from him, and the second in 1894 (10 years before Dali!) is born a daughter Elena.

Nevertheless, this girl remained in our memory not as Elena Gomberg, although she bore the surname of her mother’s legal husband, who also gave her daughter’s home name Gala. So the familiar combination of Galina Diakonova is actually two mistakes out of two possible, but everyone has already gotten used to it.

She studied at the women’s gymnasium Brukhonenko, the same place where the two Tsvetaeva sisters — Anastasia and Marina (yes, those ones!). In her early youth, Gala discovered the horror of those times — tuberculosis and she was sent to be treated in a Swiss sanatorium, where he treated his lungs and the son of a wealthy French merchant, Eugene Grindel.

The patients were cured but picked up an even more fatal disease — they fell in love with each other. Eugene was delighted with everything that has to do with his sympathy, including his name — he pronounces it with an accent on the last syllable («gala» in French holiday). She does not return to Moscow — she follows him to Paris.

At first, his father was strongly opposed to their marriage, but clever Gala wrote some tender and sensible letters to Eugene’s mother, persuaded her to her side, and in 1917, Eugene and Gala got married. So she is not an emigrant, as many people write — an ordinary repatriate. By that time, Eugene had already published his first collection of poems, which he signed with the name by which we all know him — Paul Éluard. Also, by the way, a surrealist, one of the most famous.

They lived as surrealists should — not dull. Daughter Cecile practically ignored (before his death, Gala categorically refuses to see her). The famous artist Max Ernst (not even a Surrealist, some kind of expressionist, if not a Dadaist at all) lived in their house for some time on the same rights as Mayakovsky in the home of the Bricks, an additional spouse, and no one hid it, everyone was happy. Éluard’s family was not threatened by this. But the invitation of Dali to go to visit him in Cadaqués, Eluard’s family did not survive…

 

Сальвадор и Гала Дали на борту парохода Нормандия по прибытию в Нью-Йорк, 7 декабря 1936 года
Salvador and Gala Dali aboard the steamship Normandie on arrival in New York, December 7, 1936 / biography.com
 
UNUSUAL UNION

 

The encounter was shocking for Dali and changed a great deal about him, and quite significantly. Luis Buñuel recalls: «…even in his youth, he was not a lover of women and mocked friends who were into women. His innocence was taken from him by Gala. After which he wrote me a magnificent six-page letter describing the joys of carnal love».

Only at the age of 25? Well, Dali, of course, you can not believe it — later he generally claimed that he is impotent and loves his wife is not at all for this … There is a lot of talk about how he showed a different sexual orientation — say, with his close friend Federico Garcia Lorca, who did not hide this feature.

Most researchers, however, believe that Lorca would not have minded, but Dali did not end up having a close relationship with him. And what difference does it make?

 

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In any case, the artist himself told a lot about his attraction to people in uniform — firefighters, hotel door guards, and not only to them. Later, he frankly confessed his sexual desires, directed only at Adolf Hitler, yes, yes, this is not a typo — admired his soft and plump back, which brought him to ecstasy, attributed to Hitler’s «femininity and incorrigible viciousness,» said things about his passion and cleaner: I will refrain from quoting…

His anti-Hitler friends reacted to this exceptionally sharply, even kicked Dali out of the Surrealists. But is there much point in responding to information reported by Dali?

Let’s return to his personal life. Freed by Max Ernst, a place he did not want to occupy — Gala needed him indiscriminately, and she stayed with him in Spain, as it later turned out, for the rest of his life. At first, they lived quite poorly, in a tiny fisherman’s house in Port Lilgat — Dali extremely well-timed wrote on one of the canvases: «Sometimes I Spit with Pleasure on the Portrait of my Mother», and his father stopped helping him. Dali sent his father in an envelope a sample of his semen with the words: «That’s all I owe you», but this somehow did not bring them back together…

 

TOWARDS SUCCESS AND FAME

 

But it turned out that Gala is also endowed with a unique talent — commercial and producers. She battered the doorsteps of galleries, attached the works of Dali much more successfully than he did it himself, created a society of patrons of art «Zodiac» in Paris, which began to pay Dali scholarship, and brought his income to the figures, previously unthinkable.

Dali, of course, appreciated it — he said: «I love Gala more than my mother, more than my father, more than Picasso, and even more money». And for him, it is a lot — not for nothing his former colleague in Surrealism Andre Breton created from the letters of his name and surname Salvador Dali an anagram Avida dollars, «greedy for dollars». Obviously, this did not offend Dali at all — who does not crave recognition, including material?

Naturally, such a great manager as Gala could not fail to take care of the family with the outbreak of civil war in Spain and moved to France, and with the outbreak of the world war — over the ocean, where their business was blossoming. Dali gained immense popularity and mastered a new sphere for himself — commercial advertising (at least one of his works in this genre is known to everyone: it is the design invented in his native Spain candy Chupa Chups). At the same time, he began to engage in another art — jewelry, where he also created masterpieces because he could not make anything else.

 

Сальвадор и Гала Дали
Salvador and Gala Dali / theparisreview.org

 

After the war, Dali made several political statements, dramatically changing the position he had taken in the early 30s — he completely stopped criticizing Franco and, on the contrary, began to exalt him. Of course, his opponents were not as blameless as the Soviet propaganda said, but the numerous abuses and crimes of Francoism, now certainly quite obvious, did not cancel out.

He just wanted to go home, and the talented manager at his side explained to him how to achieve it in the most accessible way? A lot of people couldn’t justify it — neither can I. Dali didn’t care about it, so let’s not get emotional. It makes little difference to his art. But still…

Gala returns with him. In 1958, they were officially married in Girona (a civil marriage couple concluded back in 1934). Does their marriage experience any difficulties? Judging by their statements — not the slightest, Dali, his wife only praises, makes a character in many of his works (throughout his life, he more or less often painted portraits of only two women — Gala and his sister Ana Maria, which is because of Gala quarreled with him, ultimately breaking off relations). But we’ve already learned that you can’t trust Dali in anything, right?

 

HOW THE HEART WAS SOOTHED

 

Despite their outward amour, around the 1960s, they became somewhat estranged from each other. Gala gets herself young lovers (I will not even try to describe or list them; there are many, and all of them are not very interesting), Dali does not mind at all, but he also has connections — either brief, or quite long, as with the model Amanda Lear (by the way, he did not enter into intimate relations with her, but for a long time they appeared everywhere together). Neither she nor he has neither conflicts nor claims on these issues.

After Franco, the position of Dali does not become less strong: King Juan Carlos even gives him a high noble title of Marquis de Dali de Pubol — by the way, the title is high, the marquis is older than not only a baron, but also a count. Pubol is the name of a castle not far from Dali’s hometown of Figueres.

He restored the castle and presented it to Gala, who accepted the gift only on the condition that the husband would visit her only on her written permission, having asked in advance. Dali responded with complete agreement, noting that this only pleases the masochistic side of his nature.

 

Портрет Дали работы Аллана Уоррена, 1972 год
Portrait of Dali by Allan Warren, 1972 / wikipedia.org

 

Dali himself takes up residence in the rebuilt municipal theater of Figueres, which he transforms into a unique theater-museum named after himself. A visit to this theater is a great emotional shock, a great aesthetic pleasure, and a wonderful tourist attraction, the income from which has made Figueres the leader in income among cities of similar size in the whole country.

There he remains when, in 1982, a little short of 88 years old, Gala dies of a simple cold, and her husband quickly loses his appetite, almost forgets how to talk, and becomes aggressive — only work remains in it, he finds oblivion. Seven years after her death, he leaves this world because of cardiac arrest, bequeathing to bury himself in his theater-museum — visitors pass one of its corridors on the crypt of Dali.

Was his marriage a success? He kept saying yes, we know it’s dangerous to believe him, but why not? She took care of the artist, helped him in any way she could, made him a rich man, and did her best to make him happy.

He did for his wife the most important thing an artist can do — immortalized her name, the rest compared to this is not worth talking about. Of course, his life will not seem normal to most people, but did Dali care whether they consider him normal? He long ago said of himself: «The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad».

 


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