Galatea of the Spheres - Salvador Dali

Galatea of the Spheres

Galatea of the Spheres (1952) is one of my favorite paintings of the so-called "nuclear-mystical" period of Salvador Dali. An unconditional masterpiece that must be watched live, and only live - which, by the way, can be done at the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, where this work is on permanent display.


 No reproduction, even of the highest quality, is able to convey the amazing effect of depth, volume and perspective characteristic of the original "Galatea".


 Yes, I know, I can be reproached: the above applies to each and every painting in the world - and not only to "Galatea of the Spheres". I must agree: this really applies to all paintings - but to varying degrees.


The gap between the original and the reproduction of a painting always exists, but at times you can jump over this gap if you accelerate properly, and sometimes just cross over, practically not noticing it. In the case of "Galatea with the Spheres" - this abyss is wide, like the Volga river and is simply insurmountable.

Located in the "Palace of the Wind" hall and installed on an easel that once belonged to the famous French artist Ernest Meyssonnier, whom Salvador Dali highly esteemed for his exceptional  technique - this relatively small work (65 X 54 cm) attracts attention at first sight - and does not let go for a long time.

Recall: after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world has changed irrevocably and forever. And just like all of humanity, Salvador Dali was shocked by these explosions. We can safely say: on the morning of August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb "Kid" left the bomb bay and, after 45 seconds of flight, exploded over Hiroshima, one of the consequences of this terrible and unprecedented event in the history of mankind was the birth of the "atomic", or "nuclear-mystical" Salvador Dali.

According to his own words and the recollections of people close to him, Dali at that time was simply obsessed with the theory of atomic decay. The very idea that all matter consists of the smallest particles that do not even touch each other deeply struck him and became fundamental when painting most of canvases of that period.

In the Galatea of the Spheres, the idealized (if not to say - angelic) face of Gala is made up of spherical elements that do not touch each other, have an axis of symmetry and go into the perspective skillfully executed by Dali.

With full reason, this work can be attributed to the genre of "atomic pointillism" - since the holistic event of the face of Gala requires a certain distance between the beholder and the canvas, as is the case with the paintings of pointillists themselves. Therefore, if the crowd, eager to take your place in front of Galatea, will not breathe aggressively in your back, you need to experiment with the distance, and I assure you, you will definitely find your ideal vantage point from which Galatea will open up to you in true - and beautiful - light.

The connection between the name of the painting and ancient Greek mythology is also interesting. Recall that Galatea was the daughter of Nereus and Doris, the personification of a calm sea, who at one time rejected the Sicillian Cyclops Polyphemus, who was passionately in love with her, and turned him into a transparent river.

Also we shouldn't forget that there is a fresco by Raphael dedicated to Galatea, adored by Salvador Dali as he adored all works by Santi - and this fresco, I think, played not the last role in Dali's creating of his own "Galatea".

In addition, there is a widely known myph about the sculptor Pygmalion from Cyprus, who carved a statue of the beautiful Galatea of ivory - and fell in love with her. The love sufferings of Pygmalion (due to the total irresponsibility of the dead statue) were so great that Aphrodite, imbued with compassion for the unfortunate Pygmalion, revived the statue, which became his wife.

It totally remindas the story of Salvador Dali himself, who "dreamed" his Galatea long before her appearance in flesh and blood, who painted her, never having seen her, who was tormented and suffering from her absence, not knowing if she really exists - and heaven, according to Dali himself, could not remain indifferent at the sight of this love, giving him Galatea-Gala?

Dreams tend to materialize - if, of course, you dream properly! (read the original text in Russian)

The author of the article is Sergei Zakharov, a writer and tour guide. When reprinting materials, please indicate the active link to the source. You can learn more about our books and buy them in the "Where and what to read" section. We invite you to our tours of the Dali museums in Catalonia. revealing secrets, debunking myths, telling the truth - we promise full and deep immersion in the amazing Universe of Salvador Dali! 

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