The Persistence of Memory (1931)





The Persistence of Memory contains a variety of devices which “deny the primacy of formal composition and abstraction” (Salcman). The colors he uses, the “sour greens and yellows” reflect chromolithographs, which was the most common way to print in the nineteenth century. The contrast created in using these colors allows for the viewer to notice the dismal difference in painting between the figure and the ground it is laying on and nature around this figure. The figure results in looking lifeless and limp.

In the painting, Dali recreates the forms and physical appearances of objects we commonly know. For example, watches tend to be hard, but in his painting, they appear soft and melting. The person on the ground, too, which is “softened like a jellyfish thrown up on the shore, is the same size as the cliffs in the distance” (Salcman). Our perceptions in the painting are completely distorted. Dali attempted to “discredit completely the world of reality” by taking his face and making it the center of the painting. Dali’s face is the figure in the middle on the ground, his tongue hanging outside his mouth, protruding from his inanimate moustache. Dali himself described these three images as “nothing more than the soft, extravagant, solitary, paranoic-critical Camembert cheese of space and time.” The ants and insects imply decay and death. The question is what is he saying about time? Dali, at this time, did not particularly care for space and time; he was uninterested in these matters. He painted The Persistence of Memory after having dinner one night and observing a Camembert melting on a tabletop. Nevertheless, his famous melting watches became incredibly popular after people realized that one could forget and ignore time, that sometimes, time is insignificant; in his painting, each watch is stopped at a different time.

Photo courtesy of Shelley Esaak


November 20, 2012. Uncategorized.

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