Gala’s role in Dali’s Art

by Diana Di Nuzzo, 14 Sep 2018

The MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) exhibits a fantastic gathering of artworks and memorabilia that explains the role of Gala Dali in relation with the Surrealist Art scene and with her husband Salvador Dalí.

Galatea in creation

Sometimes history deserves to be rewritten according to new ways of interpreting reality. Sometimes, for instance, when we look at the history of Arts in particular, we find a lack of women presence in the printed books. This is probably because the story so far has been told and written mostly by men. The role of women in society has gone and is still going through a massive change, and new approaches to explain our present and our past are developing thanks to the work of women indeed, woman writers, woman curators, woman who are finally able to have a voice in the Art World.

“The role of women in society has gone and is still going through a massive change!”

A very famous couple, embodied by the Catalan artist Savador Dalí and the Russian poet Gala is to be taken in consideration when it comes to this topic. In fact everybody just knows Gala as the wife of a French poet (Paul Eluard), or of the painter of melting clocks, more generally as a muse who inspired artists. This is probably a very reductive way to look at her life and to what she has left behind as a legacy.

The MNAC contributes to this new vision offering a different perspective on the authorship of the body of work that Dalí has given us. “Gala Salvador Dalí” is in fact the signature used for many artworks that gives the name to this well curated show made of images result of a deep and complex collaboration of two souls.

Some pictures of Gala & Dali

A great amount of paintings, photos, memorabilia, and objects that used to belong to the creative couple are gathered in one of the best museums in Barcelona, thanks also to the collaboration with the Museum in Figueres and some other important art institutions, suggesting a wiser way to read the creative products of this famous art couple.

The Madona of Port Lligat
Portrait of Gala with Rhinocerontic Symptoms

Estrella de Diego, curator of this temporary show, offers a revision of the character of Gala and her beloved one. As a matter of fact Gala has always been seen as a manipulative and greedy woman to the public eye. But it’s time to change this storytelling: considering with attention her writings we discover for instance a fine intellectual who was a great reader and a talented writer (her involvement with Eluard produced great amount of poetry too).

Gala's foot

Gala had relationships with artists such as Max Ernst (who often drew and painted her), Picasso, Man Ray, Brassai and many other important names from the Surrealist field. She was married and had a daughter with Paul Eluard, and then she decided to leave everything (swinging Paris included) to go, instead to live with Dalí in Spain. She was not just a muse, she also created her own surrealist objects (most of them destroyed by time because of their fragility), and her own artistic profile.

“She was not just a muse, she also created her own surrealist objects”

She used to design her own clothing as much as her image, together with the one she shared with her second husband; as a result of this “shared image development”, a third persona was born, called “Gala Salvador Dalí” as a sign (and signature) of the deep and multi-layered connection that the two had. Moreover she probably spoke English and French much better than Dalí, being a great connection for him , during trips abroad such those in USA (do you remember the friendship between Disney and Dalí? If not please check out this fantastic video they started to create together:

It is time to abandon some sterile misconceptions in order to rebuild a proper way of looking at the history of these two lovers, who got involved in a sentimental and artistic journey. In a moment where the role of women in Art History is assuming the deserved relevance, giving some recognition to the female character of Gala is the right thing to do also to assign the proper meaning to the work of Dalí.

* Read also: In search of Beauty – Saul Leiter

The show held in Barcelona is truly appealing for multiple reasons: the artwork gathered is of fantastic quality, and you can look at images that are intimate and not that well known by the wider public, such as photos that portrays all those artistic relationships that Gala had with many talented artists; then, it’s a tangible effort to switch towards a fair interpretation of a charismatic female character in Art History; last but not least do not forget that you can see in Barcelona artworks that otherwise you could find on view elsewhere (the museum of Dalí of Figueres is the place where most of the art by Dalí shown here comes from, and it deserves a visit by itself).

Website: (exhibition until 14 October 2018)

Battle in the clouds

1 Comment
  1. […]  For example, they have their own  blog which talks about the relevant city expositions (‘Gala’s Role in Dali’s Art’ in MNAC) and reflects on some eccentric modern art news. Did you know, for example, that robots, […]

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