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persistence of memory
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali on page 428 is one his most distinguished
works. It is an Oil on Canvas 9 1/2” x 13” and was painted in 1931. Dali uses many types of
media in this picture to portray the imagery he was looking for.
The First media I recognized was chiaroscuro. The artwork starts from a bright white and
blue in the top left hand corner and ends up fading into darkness. There is a large figure with a
clock draped over it right before the fade to darkness which may symbolize a time in the artists
life in which he was feeling that his memories were fading and falling into blackness.
The Second media I noticed was trompe l’oeil. This was most noticed with the
seemingly melted watches representing time or memory draping off a table and a tree. It is
really a barren landscape with 4 clocks, a table, fake tree, a blue rectangular mass, and some
mountains in the background. I suppose he is trying to symbolize his thoughts and memories and
how he was feeling about them at that moment.
This artwork consists of a mostly cool color scheme with one instance of warm. There is
a red clock in the bottom left hand corner that does seem to stick out with the effect of red and
black it uses. That also is covered with ants that look like they are eating which may symbolize
some type of eating away at a memory he had. The cool colors are the sky and 3 of the clocks
while the warm is 1 clock and the base of the mountain. The rest of the landscape is a very
neutral brown and black.
Persistence of Memory also exhibits a kind of atmospheric/linear perspective. The
objects in the front of the piece, the tree, clocks, table, figure, are most noticeable with detail and
it seems like those are the objects the artist wants you to be most familiar with relative to the
mountains, sky, and ocean in the distance which really are not that symbolic in this picture.
They are of less focus than the melted clocks.
Dali was a noted Surrealist and this picture may have been his greatest in that era. He
was a man that could put photorealistic images on a canvas. His surrealist era was influenced by
a famous psychologist which led him to explore his own fears and fantasies. In 1934 Dali was
expelled from the Surrealist group due to the world war and his supposed crazy ideas.
I chose this artwork because of Dali’s intense, illusionistic style. He was a great artist
and a man not ashamed to show how he felt. He wanted to explore his fears and fantasies and
express them through artwork which gives me the sense that he had great pride. I feel this piece
is very important to the surrealist artworld as it is a perfect example of Dali’s realistically
dreamlike content. Dali was expelled from his surrealist group in 1934 and responded as follows
“ the difference between me and the surrealists is that I am surrealism.
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The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dal, Surrealism, Dali City, Dali, Clock
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