The Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory  is a 1931 painting by artist Salvador Dali and is one of his most recognizable works.

The well-known piece of art introduced the image of the soft melting pocket watch. It epitomizes Dalí’s theory of “softness” and “hardness”, which was central to his thinking at the time. As Dawn Ades wrote, “The soft watches are an unconscious symbol of the relativity of space and time, a Surrealist meditation on the collapse of our notions of a fixed cosmic order”. This interpretation suggests that Dalí was incorporating an understanding of the world introduced by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity. But Dali`s idea of the soft watches were not inspired by the theory of relativity, but by the surrealist perception of a Camembert melting in the sun.

To me this painting suggests “fading past”. The three clocks suggests different times with different phases of the day. I assume the clock working anti-clockwise suggesting rewinding. Also I can see an imagery of a closed eyelids with long eyelashes which depicts deep sleep. The melting clock over the the figure looks like a blanket. Therefore, it can be said that when we sleep we get dreams and dreams are basically made from our memories, and the minute we wake up we don’t remember the dream. Hence the memories of what we dream dies the moment we open our eyes.

The housefly and the ants on the closed pocket watch seems to convey the idea of the moment which is forgotten or decayed. The dry branch seems to depict disintegration and the soft melting clock hanging on the branch together conveys disintegration of memories.The plank to the left corner of the painting looks like the lid of a coffin.  The landscape is also very barren with the cracked rocks in the background which looks lifeless. Even the colours of the background are dark and saturated as compared to the foreground.



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