Focus on Salvador Dali's work : "The Persistance of Memory"

Margaux Jouault
Publié le 6 December 2022
Focus on Salvador Dali's work : "The Persistance of Memory"

Salvador Dali is considered as one of the main representatives of Surrealism and one of the most outstanding figures of 20th century art. Today, let us look back at a major work of his, The Persistence of Memory.

The torment of time

This painting is characteristic of Dali's surrealist period. The scene is set in Portlligat. In various sections of the painting, amorphous clocks stand next to a creature lying on the ground.

Those melting watches symbolise a battle against time, a battle that no man can win. Fascinated by Einstein's relativity, Dali was also inspired by a melting camembert for this work. He completed this piece of art quickly. In The Persistence of Memory, time no longer passes. It appears to have stopped several times. The insects on the watches seem to indicate the putrefaction of the living. In other words : death.

Indeed, death is present everywhere in this painting. For exemple, we can see a dead tree bearing time as best it can. Our eye is undeniably drawn to this strange, amorphous creature lying on the ground. Dali was an adept of self portrait. The painter had done something similar in two previous works: The Great Masturbator and The Enigma of Desire.

The leader of surrealism is also anchored in the present. Indeed, how can death and time passing be represented without painting a peaceful landscape? Notice the calm in the background. Death stands alongside eternity.

Thus, in 1931 Salvador Dali signed his greatest masterpiece: The Persistence of Memory.

Visit our streaming platform Museum TV to watch our programme: The World's Greatest Painters - Salvador Dalí