While his contemporary Pablo Picasso might have been a notorious womanizer, Salvador Dali was far more complicated sexually. The Spanish artist once famously confessed: “I have tried sex once with a woman and it was (with his wife) Gala. It was overrated. I tried sex once with a man and that man was the famous juggler Frederico Garcia Lorca. It was very painful.” Thus, despite evidently displaying a keen interest in the theme of sex and sexuality from an artistic point of view, many of Dali’s biographers have concluded that the great man himself was asexual.
In his 1942 autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, the artist is notably coy on the issue of sex and his own sexuality. Curiously, while topics like religion, war and politics, as well as his own beliefs and upbringing, are discussed, Dali declined to give any insights into his love life – or lack of it. This is despite the fact that Dali, who was born in the city of Figueres, Spain, in 1904, was a married man for much of his life. He first met Gala, a Russian immigrant almost a decade his senior, in 1929, though at the time, she was married to the French poet Paul Eluard. However, the couple soon got together and they finally married in a secret ceremony in 1934, following this up with a religious ceremony in a Catholic church a year later.
The union between Dali and Gala was far from a conventional relationship. Again, the artist himself revealed that the marriage was only consummated on a single, disappointing occasion. Other than that, he showed no interest in sex, though his wife was highly sexual and continued to take many lovers outside of the marital bed. Some Dali scholars theorize that this asexuality was rooted in his childhood. He himself admitted that, from an early age, he feared his penis was small and underdeveloped and that he was bound to disappoint women sexually. What’s more, while he did find pleasure in his own company, even this caused him great distress, even into later life.
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