Gala Dali (Elena Diakonova), was a Russian wife and muse of the prominent surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Dali and Gala met and fell in love in 1929, beginning their fifty-year relationship. She was 11 older, was married and had a daughter. Gala became Dali's greatest inspiration, his wife, friend, secretary, his muse and goddess. He wrote: "I name my wife: Gala, Galushka, Gradiva; Oliva, for the oval shape of her face and the colour 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."
Gala was born in Kazan and spent her childhood in Moscow where she got a good education. Being a brilliant student, completing her studies at the M.G. Brukhonenko academy for young ladies with a very high average mark; a decree from the tsar authorised her to become a primary school teacher and to give lessons in people's homes.
She met Dali at the age of 36 and immediately left her husband, famous poet Paul Eluard and their daughter to become the partner of Dali, who was 25 at that moment. Assured of Dali's genius, Gala was making every effort to help him reveal his talent. In 1930 they were in Paris living literally from hand to mouth until Dali finally rose to international stardom. Before that happened however, Gala would spend all her time making rounds of the local picture galleries hawking around Salvador's works. Toiling day and night she finally managed to put together a group of rich connoisseurs who were now commissioning Dali to paint for them. Before long Gala's selfless effort started bearing fruit. Salvador Dali was becoming one of the greatest artists of his time and in many of his paintings, as we can see, Gala was portrayed as his one and only muse that made him a man and an internationally acclaimed genius. She was alternatively portrayed as Madonna, Venus and Helen the Beautiful - a delusion, an incantation, a talisman. Gala was said to be a women with iron will and many believed she was a witch. She was not beautiful, but everyone admitted her charm and appeal.
In 1958 Dali and Gala married at the Angels chapel, near Girona. In 1968 the painter bought Gala a castle in Pubol, Girona, and it was agreed that the painter could not go there without her prior permission in writing to do so. Gala died on June 10, 1982. Galina Dyakonova, Madame Eluard and Signora Dali was 88... Devastated by the terrible loss, Salvador Dali broke a plague law enacted back in the 1940s that prohibited moving the dead without official permission. Gala's body was wrapped in a blanket and seated in the back seat of a Cadillac car, next to a nurse. They agreed that if the police were to stop the car they would say Gala had died on the way to a clinic. After an hour's drive they reached the crypt with horse heads, a human torso and a giraffe all made of gypsum. There were two graves, one reserved for Salvador himself. Gala's embalmed body was placed inside a casket with a see-through top and buried at 6 p.m. The muse of a genius was forever gone now.
After Gala's death, Dali lost much of his will to live. He deliberately dehydrated himself, possibly as a suicide attempt, or possibly in an attempt to put himself into a state of suspended animation as he had read that some microorganisms could do. In 1984, a fire broke out in his bedroom under unclear circumstances. It was possibly a suicide attempt by Dali, or possibly simple negligence by his staff. In November 1988, Dali entered the hospital with heart failure. On January 23, 1989, while his favorite record of Tristan and Isolde played, he died of heart failure at Figueres at the age of 84
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