In July 1976, Dali exhibits new works at the Guggenheim in NYC, including Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko). He painted it in NYC and he considered the USA as his second home since he had been a refugee during the war.
Dali created his own character: speaking of himself in the 3rd person as “Dali”, a genius “going further than Da Vinci”, with an exaggerated bad English mixing Spanish words.
This artwork is based on a photo of Lincoln published in the Scientific American "The Recognition of Faces” by Leon D. Harmon. Dali as appropriated the photo and made 2 paintings in one, thanks to the optical illusion.
Gala likes the painting in her honor. At the time they lived separately but she was still very important for Dali. Amanda Lear who was Dali’s muse, comments and makes a pun between genius and genie (same word in French), to refer to his place as Pygmalion for her.
The last comment is of Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, the patrons who founded the Dali Museum in the USA, now based in St Petersburg, FL.
Sources: Salvador Dali, Diary of a Genius, 1990 • The Dali Museum, St Petersburg • Reynolds Morse, 85, a Dali Collector, NY Times 8/23/2000
At the court of Queen Lear, The Guardian, 12/23/2000 • Gala Dalí’s Life Wasn’t Quite Surreal, but It Was Pretty Strange, NY Times July 25, 2018
Dali El Genius, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 30" x 24" (76 x 61 cm)