The Persistence of Memory

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Rami El-Abidin Miss Hansen First Year Writing Seminar 22 February 2012 The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali’s 1931 painting The Persistence of Memory is a hallmark of the surrealist movement. Dali famously described his paintings as “hand-painted dream photographs” and The Persistence of Memory is a prime example of that description. The Persistence of Memory depicts striking and confusing images of melting pocket watches and a mysterious fetus-like structure all sprawled over the dreamscape representation of Dali’s home of Port Lligat, Spain. Dali uses strange images, color, and shadows in The Persistence of Memory to convey an abstract view on dreams, time, and reality. Beginning in the 1920s the surrealist movement sought to…show more content…
Not only does the pocket watch have a distinct color but it is also the only hard, non-melting pocket-watch. The orange pocket-watch, which is being swarmed by ants, represents the anxieties associated with the concrete perception of time like being late or getting older. Along the same vain, the orange pocket watch can also represent death and decay as the only factors of life that are not free of the irrelevancy of time. Dali uses light and shadows to evoke a dreamlike state of perception. In the background we see two tiny rocks, one in the shadows and one in the light while everything in the foreground is engulfed in shadow. The only other things that are in the light are the ocean and the craggy rock structure. Clearly, a majority of the painting is engulfed in shadow. This dichotomy between light and shadow represents the difference between conscious and unconscious perception, between certainty and uncertainty. Since a majority of the painting is consumed by shadow, Dali is implying that humans can barely be certain about their conscious perception. Alternatively, Dali could be using the light as a symbol of hope and certainty that is largely overwhelmed by the uncertainty created when humans attempt to fully understand and control their surroundings. The surrealist movement of the 1920s-1930s was largely based on the notion that excessive rational thought is a catalyst of conflict and war throughout the world. Salvador Dali’s The Persistence
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