The Persistence of Memory
Project made by: Mariña Gándara & Sara Permuy (4ºESO)
Table of contents 1. The author: Salvador Dalí…………………….….. 3 4 a. Biography……………………………….……3 b. Style of art……………………………………4 c. Popular paintings…………………………....4 2. The Persistence of Memory…….….……...……...5 a. The painting…………………………………..5 i. Personal opinion……………..………..5 6 ii. Visual part…………...……………..…. 6 b. The critics……………………………………..7 9 i. Symbols, meaning……..……...……....7 ii. Critics…………………………………...7 9 3. Conclusion………………………………….……….9 4. Bibliography…………..……………………………. 10 a. Information……………………………………10 b. Images……………………………………..…10 i. Images (presentation only)..................10
The author: Salvador Dalí Biography Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueras, Spain. He was a painter, sculptor, writer and designer, and he is one of the greatest representants of surrealism. He starts to paint in 1916, when he discovers the Contemporanea paintings, doing some impressionist works. In 1922 he enters in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and he became a cubist, using cubism and dadaism techniques; a fact that will mark his style in his artworks. Dalí got married with Gala, a russian muse, in 1934, and they escaped together to United States in 1940 because of the II World War. In this period, he writes a novel, an autobiography and a movie script. Then, after nine years, they returned to Cataluña. Her wife died in June, 1982, so some people have the theory that he tried to commit suicide several times. And finally, he died on January 23, 1989 listening to his favourite music opera, “Tristan and Isolda”.
Style of art He had had his own style since he was young; cubism (using geometric shapes to show natural figures) and dadaism (compositions with a difficult logic made with mixed perspectives and different materials). His works are surreal in general, using a lot of elements like body parts, animals, instruments or different objects, and distorting some of them. He used to do his works in oil or different inks in boards, canvases or cardboards. Some of their main influences were men like Picasso and Velázquez.
Popular paintings His paintings are very popular because of his curious style. One of his first and very famous works is “The persistence of memory“, the painting that we will talk about. However, he has others like “The girl in the window”, “Dream caused by a flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening”, “Real heart”, “An andalusian dog”, “The great masturbator”, and many more.
The Persistence of Memory The Painting This painting is one of the most recognizable and famous works by Dalí. It is a surreal painting. He did it in 1931, and it measures 24 x 33cm. The materials that Salvador used were oil painting on canvas. At first it was shown at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1932, and then, in 1934, it was moved to the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City. There was another painting called “The Chromosome of a Highlycoloured Fish's Eye Starting the Harmonious Disintegration of the persistence of memory” (but known simply as “The Disintegration of the persistence of memory”), painted in 1954. It is a sort of recreation of the painting that we are talking about.
Personal opinion ● Sara: When I saw this painting I felt sadness. I think that the story of this painting could represent the author’s life. He could think that his life was inestable, and because of this, he painted some saggy clocks, except one, who is being “attacked” by ants. This clock could represent Dalí being physically and psychologically abused by other people or things, and the other elements could represent his feelings. I love this painting because it is very strange and mysterious. 5
● Mariña: This painting makes me feel nostalgic. It can represent the passage of time, the time he lost, and maybe, his sadness; the white thing on the floor seems to be an autobiography. The background is practically empty, so it could mean that his life was sad or boring. I like this work because its representations can be different depending on the person, so you can have your own theories.
Visual Part The element that draws our attention the most is the white thing. We think that it can be a person (an autobiography) or a moon. It has wavy eyebrows and big eyelashes. There is something brown that stands out from it. It seems to be a tongue or a nose. On our left, there is an orangebrown box that looks like a piece of wood or ground, with two clocks and a tree above it. The orange element looks like a clock or compass and it has a lot of ants in the center, and some of them are in the corners, as a sort of clock hands. Then, we can see a gold and blue saggy clock, bigger than the last one. It does not have the numbers 9, 10 and 11, maybe because the frame is covering them. In addition, it has a fly over it. The third element, the grey tree with no leafs, seems to be dead. It has another grey saggy clock in its only branch. In the background, behind the box, there is a grey stone, and behind it, there is a sort of steel sheet or a swimming pool, or something full of water. It has a base made of brown stones. On its left, there is a crystalline lagoon or ocean, where the yellowblue sky and the big irregular yellow cliff are reflected on. Finally, in front of that rock, there is a white egg on the brown floor. Its colours are dark in the bottom and bright in the top. The colour of the ground matches with the blue sky.
The critics Symbols and meaning The scenario is the bay of Port Lligat or the Cabo de Creus. The ground can be a desert or a beach. The figure in the middle could be a selfportrait and it is sleeping or dying, possibly because this painting represents one of his dreams. The melted clocks were inspired by the camembert cheese, as Dalí said, and they represent the passage of time or the memories that he lost. “Podéis estar seguros de que mis famosos relojes blancos no son otra cosa que el queso camembert del espacio y el tiempo, que es tierno, extravagante, solitario y paranoicocrítico”.1
The ants and the fly represent the putrefaction, referred to the time. In addition, it is known that he was afraid of ants, making him feel remorses. The egg means love, fertility and hope, and it represents the prenatal intrauterine life. His source of inspiration was the landscape, so the most important element in this painting is the cliff on the right. They represent the persistence of things over time too.
Critics “Salvador Dalí frequently described his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs.” [...] The ants and melting clocks are recognizable images that Dalí placed in an unfamiliar context or rendered in an unfamiliar way. The large central creature comprised of a deformed nose and eye was drawn from Dalí’s imagination, although it has frequently been interpreted as a selfportrait. Its long eyelashes seem insectlike; what may or may not be a tongue oozes from its nose like a fat snail from its shell. Time is the theme here, from the melting watches to the decay implied by the swarming ants. Mastering what he called “the usual paralyzing tricks of eyefooling,” Dalí painted this work with “the most imperialist fury of precision,” but only, he said, “to systematize confusion and thus to help discredit completely the world of reality.” There is, however, a nod to the real: the distant golden cliffs are those on the coast of Catalonia, Dalí’s home.”2
Salvador Dalí talking about his painting. Museum of Modern Art.
“The Persistence of Memory depicts a scene showing pocket watches, detached from their chains, melting slowly on rocks and branches of a tree, with the ocean as a back drop. A part of the painting is basked in sunlight and a part is shrouded in a shadow. Looking carefully you can see too small rocks, one in the sunlight and the other in the shadow. Dali frequently used the philosophy of hard and soft in his paintings. The melting watches points to time being flowing and eternal, whereas the hard rocks are the reality of life and the ocean represents the vastness of the earth. There is an orange clock covered with ants. He used the symbolism to convey the decay of time or death (and at times, the female genitalia). The strange human figure in the center could be interpreted, as a formless person we would imagine, while we are in a dreamlike trance. [...] When Dali was asked if this allusion to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was true, he replied, rather flippantly, that it was a surrealist vision of Camembert cheese melting in the heat of the sun.. [...]”3
We did not know about these other meanings of the ants. “[...] The main part of the painting is that “hard objects become inexplicably limp in this bleak and infinite dreamscape” (The Museum of Modern Art 2007). [...] The surrealists, including and especially Dali, did not hide the fact that much of the imagery found in their works came directly from hallucinations. Drugs and dreams alike become the driving forces behind his unusual statements through his art. [...] At the center of The Persistence of Memory is a strange creature lying in the sand, looking somewhat pathetic and lifeless. Many art historians have said that this ‘monster’ actually has the face of Dali himself, and “its long eyelashes seem disturbingly insect like or even sexual” (The Museum of Modern Art 2007). Perhaps this is how he pictured himself, somewhat peaceful and yet lost with no concept of time to keep him going forward. [...] What is remarkable about Salvador Dali’s work is that it represents a clash of two different sides: real and imagination. A subtle theme in The Persistence of Memory, which Dali has used before, is ants. They are drawn to the decaying of time, much as they would be as if it were “like rotting flesh” (The Museum of Modern Art 2007). [...] No matter what is said about the painting, this work has stood the test of time, and is still referenced in much of pop culture today. Salvador Dali has become an icon for a generation of people interested in the abstract and distortion of reality.”4
We knew about the drugs (as Dalí said: “I do not drugs, I’m the drug”), but not about the possible meaning of the eyelashes.
Totally History. SimplyCharly.
“[...] The painting itself is named adequately, as it is hard to forget the feelings provoked by observing the contents of the painting. [...] While the contents of this painting are enigmatic and open to interpretation, let's not forget that Dali was also a philosopher, beside being an artist, as most people know him. [...] The painting is nothing more than a collection of ideas, that are to do with the interpretation of dreams, perception of reality, time, birth, death and sexual desire. The ants, seemingly attacking the orange clock positioned on the rectangular tablelike object perhaps indicate the anxiety associated with time. And what are the origins of our anxieties associated with time? Is it being too late for work? or is it not having completed or accomplished something before we die? Whether we are aware of it or not, it is reasonable to believe that we all understand, even if only on subconscious level that some day we are going to die. This psychology and understanding of the reality of death may configure our behavior. [...] Dali would often make up ridiculous explanations for his paintings to purposely mislead people. The Camembert is an example of just that. By doing this Dali not only opened the doors for discussion of multiple interpretations of his art, but also made criticizing his work nearly impossible for people he thought who possessed lesser intellect than that of himself. [...]”
And with this critic we learned a new fact about Dalí; Maybe he lies when he talks about his own paintings.
Conclusion With this painting, we learned a lot of new things; for example, we discovered a lot of amazing Dalí’s artworks, his “curious” personality and new vocabulary like “saggy”, or “remorses”. We also learned the different meanings of the same thing, as we could see with elements like the ants or the egg. It could be better if Dalí explained more facts about this painting.
Bibliography Information ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
“Salvador Dalí”. Wikipedia. [Accessed 22012014] “Salvador Dalí”. Biografías y Vidas. [Accessed 22012014] “Biografía de Salvador Dalí”. Fundació GalaSalvador Dalí. [Accessed 22012014] “La colección”. Fundació GalaSalvador Dalí. [Accessed 22012014] “Las 10 obras más destacadas de Dalí”. elEconomista.es. [Accessed 22012014] “La persistencia de la memoria”. Wikipedia. [Accessed 19022014] “The Persistence of Memory”. Wikipedia. [Accessed 19022014] “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory”. Wikipedia. [Accessed 19022014] Marisol Román, “LA PERSISTENCIA DE LA MEMORIA (1931)”. ¿Qué significa este cuadro o escultura?. [Accessed 13022014]
Critics ● ● ● ●
“The Persistence of Memory”. MoMA. [Accessed 05032014] “The Persistence of Memory”. Totallyhistory. [Accessed 05032014] “Analisys of The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali Simply Charly”. Simply Charly. [Accessed 05032014] “The Persistence od Memory (Meaning) by Salvador Dalí”. Authentic society. [Accessed 05032014]
Images ● ● ● ● ●
Salvador Dalí. “The Persistence of Memory”. (About.com). [Accessed 20022014] Robert Descharnes?. “Dalí”. (Réquiem por Espinete). [Accessed 26022014] Salvador Dalí. “Muchacha en la ventana”. (PJ Media). [Accessed 26022014] Salvador Dalí, “El gran masturbador”. Cajón de arquitecto. [Accessed 09032014] Salvador Dalí, “Sueño causado por el vuelo de una abeja alrededor de una granada un segundo antes de despertar”. Museo Thyssen. [Accessed 08032014]
-Presentation only: ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Originally by Dalí, edited by NoM. “Melting clock by Salvador Dali”. Google Play store. [Accessed 09032014] Terry Stigers (based in Dali’s painting). “Dali clock”. Google Play store. [Accessed 08032014] Item based in Dalí’s painting. “Melting clock”. ILoveGreen. [Accessed 08032014] Philippe Halsman, “Dalí Atomicus”. (Wikipedia). [Accessed 08032014] Philippe Halsman, “Dalí”. (Espacio Crítico 15). [Accessed 09032014] Philippe Halsman, “Dalí”. (Quetzaltenango). [Accessed 09032014] Philippe Halsman, “Dalí”. (Entretente con). [Accessed 08032014]
Link to presentation (Prezi). 10