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Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
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Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

Le Christ de Gala

Details
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)
Le Christ de Gala
oil on canvas
each 39 3/8 x 39 3/8in. (100 x 100cm.)
Painted in 1978
a pair (2)
Provenance
Gala Dalí, Pubol, painted for her by the artist.
Private collection, Canada, by whom acquired from the above before 1982.
Deutsche Bank AG, Dusseldorf, by whom acquired from the above.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1993.
Literature
R. Descharnes, Salvador Dalí, the Work, the Man, New York, 1984, p. 409 (illustrated).
K. v. Maur, Salvador Dalí, 1904-1989, Stuttgart, 1989, no. 312 (illustrated pp. 404-5).
R. Descharnes & G. Néret, Salvador Dalí 1904-1989, vol. II, 1946-1989, Cologne, 1994, nos. 1485 & 1486 (illustrated pp. 666-7).
Exhibited
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Salvador Dalí, Rétrospective, 1920-1980, Dec. 1979-April 1980, no. 331 (illustrated in colour in the catalogue pp. 394-5). This exhibition later travelled to London, The Tate Gallery.
Madrid, Museo de Prado, on loan, 1981.
Cologne, Museum Ludwig, on loan, 1983.
Madrid, Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, 400 obras de Salvador Dalí de 1914 a 1983, 1983, no. 434. This exhibition later travelled to Barcelona, Palau Reial de Pedralbes.
Vienna, Kunsterhaus, on loan, 1987.
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Salvador Dalí, May-July 1989, no. 312 (illustrated in colour in the catalogue pp. 404-5). This exhibition later travelled to Zurich, Kunsthaus.
Berlin, Martin-Gropius Bau, on loan, 1990.
Korea, Bienale de Kwangjiu, 1997 (illustrated in the catalogue p. 86). Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Dalí's Optical Illusions, Jan.-March 2000, nos. 64-5 (illustrated in the catalogue pp. 182-3). This exhibition later travelled to Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Edinburgh, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
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Lot Essay

Le Christ de Gala (Gala's Christ) is a large stereoscopic painting which Dalí painted as a gift for his wife Gala in 1978. For many years it hung in the bedroom of her home in the castle at Púbol where she spent the last years of her life.

The castle at Púbol was a summer retreat that Dalí had had built and decorated for Gala so that she could hide away and entertain her numerous lovers in privacy. Dalí - a keen masochist - delighted in the fact that he was only allowed through the gates of Púbol when in possession of a written invitation from his wife. Portraying a auburn-haired young man mystically suspended on a cross in the manner of Dalí's celebrated 1951 painting St John of the Cross, Le Christ de Gala is possibly a portrait of the actor Jeff Fenton - a frequent visitor to Púbol - who had played Christ in the film Jesus Christ Superstar and with whom Gala had been infatuated for many years.

At the same time, the painting is also an image of revelation and a Dalínean vision of transcendence over death. In his old age Dalí became increasingly preoccupied with his own mortality and with the scientific possibility of transcending death. Le Christ de Gala merges the Christian notion of the transcendence of death through Christ with Dalí's own experiments with optical effects as a path to the fourth dimension.

Ever since his early childhood, when a teacher had first shown him some stereoscopic slides, Dalí had been obsessed with the "magic" of optical effects. Following his experiments with holograms, Dalí began in the 1970s to paint a series of stereoscopic paintings. As in Le Christ de Gala, a stereoscopic painting consists of a pair of almost identical paintings - one painted from the view of the left eye, the other from the view of the right - which when viewed side by side with the use of angled mirrors, or ideally through special lenses, merge into a single three-dimensional image. For Dalí, the creation of a third dimensional image from a two dimensional one was a mystical act of transcendence and spiritual relevance as it established the scientific possibility of going another step further and escaping the third dimension while entering the mystic fourth. In his Ten Recipes for Immortality written in 1973, Dalí draws a clear parallel between stereoscopic painting and the Holy Trinity writing: "Binocular vision is the Trinity of transcendent physical perception. The Father, the right eye, The Son, the left eye and the Holy Ghost, the brain, the miracle of the tongue of fire, the luminous visual image having become incorruptible, pure spirit, Holy Ghost" (cited in R. Descharnes, Salvador Dalí, the Work, the Man, New York, 1984, p. 409).

Le Christ de Gala was executed in the same spirit as this stereoscopic "Recipe for Immortality". It is a gift from Dalí to Gala presenting a visionary three-dimensional image of a young good-looking Christ as a mystic medium of spiritual transcendence.
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