In 1955, photographer Charles Hewitt visited Salvador Dalí and his wife (and muse) Gala at their home to shoot photos for a British editorial magazine called Picture Post. The famous artist posed up showing his surreal personality and didn’t miss this opportunity to shock his audience. Hewitt ended up titling the photoshoot simply as “One day with Salvador Dalí”.
In 1930, a few months after his father threw him out of the house, unable to stand his strange personality, Salvador Dalí purchased a former fisherman’s shack. The property was paid with some of the 20,000 francs that the Viscount of Noailles had given him as an advance for a painting that would later become The Old Age of William Tell.
In his memoirs, he writes about the difficulties of finding a new home and describes the new house to be like a real biological structure […]. Each new pulse in our life had its own new cell, its room. (…) I wanted it all good and small ̶̶ the smaller the more womb-like.
Over the next forty years, Dalí purchased neighboring cabins, gradually expanding the property into a sort-of labyrinth of twisted corridors and passages packed with artworks and weird installations reflecting his unique obsessions.
Speaking of his bohemian house, Dalí once said: “Portlligat is the place of production, the ideal place for my work. Everything fits to make it so: time goes more slowly and each hour has its proper dimension. There is a geological peacefulness: it is a unique planetary case.”
Overall, Dalí lived and worked in this house starting in 1930 and until Gala’s death in 1982. Since then the house has become a museum and everything kept just as it was when the couple lived there, complete with its phallic-shaped swimming pool and yellow Sempervivum adornments, Gala’s favorite flowers.
Dalí fell in love with Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova, the Russian wife of fellow surrealist artist Paul Éluard. Despite the forbidden love affair, Elena left her husband for Dalí and they eventually married in 1958. Referred to by her beloved husband as Gala, Dalí’s wife would be his primary inspiration and muse for his art.
According to most accounts, Gala had a high sex drive and throughout her life had numerous extramarital affairs which Dalí encouraged since his main sexual activity involved voyeurism. Dalí said that his wife Gala was the only person with whom he had achieved complete coitus.
Salvador Dalí’s behavior, personality, and style were just as flamboyant and unconventional as the visually stunning paintings he created. The surreal artist drew public attention due to his eccentricity, and quickly became recognized for his outlandish behavior, strange style, and long, cartoonish mustache just as much as for his artwork.
(Photo credit: Charles Hewitt / Picture Post / Hulton Archive / Getty Images).