Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pyrenees Journal III: Capturing the Dalis

photograph by Hallie Cohen
Salvador Dali gave his beloved wife Gala the castle in Pubol,  which is now open to the public, on the condition that he was only allowed to visit her by appointment. Gala, who had initially been married to the poet Paul Eluard, was a fixture of a circle of surrealist poets, painters and filmmakers which included Louis Aragon, Luis Bunuel and Rene Magritte—all who been guests in Dali’s house in Cadaques the fateful summer of l929 when he and Gala first fell in love. This passage from Dali’s The Secret Life of Salvador Dali is quoted in an exhibition monograph: “She was to be my Gradiva who advances my victory, my wife.” Gradiva as the monograph explains was the heroine of a novel by W. Jensen “who carries out a psychologic cure on the main character.” Did Gala cure Dali? She was definitely a kind of perverse muse and her house with its curiosities looks a little like what Luis Bunuel might have provided for clients if he had decided to be a residential developer rather than a filmmaker. The back of a chair reveals a 3-D vista, a lion’s head sits above an armoire and the famous garden includes elephants with giraffe’s legs. No Dali house would be replete without a Cadillac and this one has a Cadillac Deville (Dali accentually created a Cadillac that rained inside which sits on the ground floor of the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres). And there’s a chess set in which all the pieces are fingers. The universe Dali inhabited was a perverse one and if you want Capturing the Friedmans surrealist style, the Gala house gives you a feeling for the existence in which the great artist was basically an absent figure in his own home, an eminence gris, who pulled the strings, while his wife cavorted with other men (as Dali pursued his own intimacies with the likes of Frederico Garcia Lorca and undoubtedly others). What is notably touching is the basement crypts designed with a hole through which the two corpses would be able to hold hands. But how did Gala attend to so many lovers in such a small bed?

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