Gala, Dalí’s Russian Wife

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Friday, 2018, June 8

Like Alice in Wonderland, Gala lived a life that remained a secret, suspended between fantasy and reality.

My secret is that I will never tell you all of my secrets,’ she said.

Born in Kazan, one of the oldest university cities in Russia, she was named Helena Deluvina Diakonoff by her parents Ivan and Antonine Diakonoff.

During the years when she studied in Moscow, she learnt French and had drawing lessons. Later she continued her studies at St Petersburg University, and she grew into a strong and independent young woman.  The young Russian girl often dressed in sailor suits, and had a penetrating stare.

Her character was emotional and unstable, Gala wrote about herself that she was nervous, aggressive and hysterical. Gala became ill with tuberculosis and the disease had a negative effect, hardening her and rendering her less sociable and engaged. As a result, at 18, she moved with her family to Davos in Switzerland to attend a sanitarium.

It was here she met Eugène Émile Paul Grindel, better known as Paul Éluard, who arrived at the sanitarium in 1912 when he was 17, he was convalescing from an attack of hemoptysis.

Gala e Paul Éluard began a relationship, and upon returning respectively to Russia and Paris, they were formally engaged.

Four years later Gala left Russia for Paris, to join her poet, taking with her a few books and personal possessions. In 1917 they married, and the following year their daughter Cecile was born.

Gala had arrived in Paris whilst Eluard was conscripted in the army. Gala lived with her mother-in-law in St Denis, dedicating her time to studying the French language and its literature in order to become a professional translator.

She continued to write poetry in Russian, and remained interested in Russian literature; her favorite writers were Tolstoy e Dostoevsky.

In Paris, Gala met the most important players in the Surrealist movement whom Eluard mixed with, including André Breton, Philippe Soupault e Louis Aragon.

In the Spring of 1929, Eluard met Dalí,  when he came to Paris for the presentation of his film ‘“Un chien andalou”, created  together with Luis Buñuel.

That summer, Dalí invited Eluard to Cadaques,  it was then that Gala met Dalí properly and  they began their lifelong love affair;  she became his muse and model.

Who knows what road Dalí would have taken, had he not met Elena Dyakonova.

The young Russian girl wasn’t only Dalí’s inspiration, she became the center of his universe, his business manager, the creator of brand ‘Dalí’, encouraging the artist to sign his works ‘Gala-Salvador-Dalì’. Indeed he wrote “Gala became the salt of my life, my lighthouse, my double, myself’. Gala certainly had a major hand in helping Dalí to become famous.

Gala, the eternal Alice, knew how to keep Dalí under constant financial and creative pressure this stance that from outside could be seen as greedy and cruel, probably was necessary for an artist as badly organized as Dalí. He saw Gala as a genius, a deity, his very own Galatea.

Gala spent her whole life becoming Dalí’s inspirational muse, she proclaimed’ It
is the axis of my vitality and of my brain, the spring that throws me forward with elasticity and agility, with more clarity and precision in all the movements of my senses, of my impulses, of my knowledge ".

It was for this reason that in 1916, Gala left her homeland and broke all ties with Russia for her love of the poet Eluard. And again for love, in 1929, Gala left her husband Eluard and her daughter Cécile to become Dalí’s muse.

Who was Helena Deluvina Diakonoff?

A young girl, from Russia who became an artist inspiration and part of the Surrealist generation, an archetypal woman  who inspired great artists and who continues to inspire.