|The Persistence of Memory 1931|
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali in 1931 represents a surrealist perspective of deep understandings of the nature of the universe. The painting is more than meets the eye and much deeper than its first impression. Even though the work was started from watching melting cheese it is also a deeply moving unconscious experience. The painter and his work were part of a movement that delved beneath the human psyche and tried to project that understanding for others to ponder the complex nature of human experience.
The melting watches were representations of the continuum of space and time and the melting cosmic order. Time is relative to activity in the environment. If everything within the environment is moving fast while the object is moving slow, time will seeming slower than if an object speeds up and the environment lags in speed, then time is condensed. The creature in the picture represents the fading of images in dreams that we have a hard time formulating an understanding of and the ants represent the eventual death of time. Wow! I bet you didn’t expect all that!
It is possible to see the picture as an impression of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. All things in the universe are relative to everything else thereby creating a cosmic order. Even though we may have thought of riding the moonbeam as pure fantasy we soon learn in history that Einstein was correct. The universe is a machine of order with subsequent rules and laws that govern its existence. It is possible to move faster than the moonbeam. As with all genius, others have a hard time following their train of thought and simply consider such inventions and works as irrational only because they are unable to learn all of the pieces that make such far reaching constructions possible. As Louis Aragon stated, “We know that the nature of genius is to provide idiots with ideas twenty years later.”
The Persistence of Memory painting is part of the surrealism era of deeper human thought. Surrealism is a revolutionary movement springing from WWI and the 1920’s. It origin was out of Paris France and spread throughout Europe and the United States Accordingly. The art is expected to be shocking and represent the philosophical, social theory, and science of the era. Freud’s work of dream interpretation and free association became a cornerstone of the movement. The works of art were representations of realities that are perceived both collectively and individually. Many famous artists met in coffee shops and joined the movement because of its rich and vivid impressions.
Salvador Dali was born in 1904 and died in 1989. His surrealist works were attributed to an influence of the Renaissance masters. Dali was of Arab Moorish background but loved things of Western excess and luxury. He was born in Empordà region in Spain, which is near France, accepting both Eastern and Western traditions. He had an interest in mathematics, natural science and infractions of light which he incorporated into his works.