She was born Helena Deluvina Diakinoff in Kazan, Russia, to a family of intellectuals. In 1913 she was sent to a sanatorium in Clavadel in Switzerland to treat her tuberculosis. She met with Paul Eluard while in Switzerland and married him a few years later. She moved to Paris with him and they had a daughter named Cécile.
Gala became involved in the Surrealist movement with Eluard. They visited a young surrealist painter in Spain together with their friends in 1929. The painter was Salvador Dali. There was an instant affair between them. Dali was 11 years younger than Gala. They married in 1932. She underwent a hysterectomy at around this time.
Gala was inspiration for many artists including Eluard, Aragon, Ernst and Breton. Breton, the "ideologue of surrealisme" later despised her. But she was a real muse for Dali, who said that she was the one who saved him from madness. Indeed, behind his artistic genious Dali was a troubled, insecure and disorganised man and it was Gala who acted as his agent, the interface between the genius and the real world. In doing so she had hurt many sensitivities who accused her of being materialistic.
Nevertheless she earned for herself the position amongst the pantheon of the greatest objects of love the world has ever seen in the hands of Dali.
Gala died in 1982 and was buried in the Castle of Púbol.