The Persistence of Memory is the most famous surrealist painting by renowned artist Salvador Dali painted in the year 1931. 

This is a minimalist painting with dimensions of only 9 1/2 by 13″ inch (24.1 x 33cm).

It is a typical ‘Dali’ painting which arouses interest of its viewers making them curious to understand its meaning. Although Dali himself never explained the meaning of this painting, various interpretations of the painting have been drawn over the years.

The Painting

The Persistence of Memory

Since Dali was a philosopher and his interest in science and psychology was very well known, one happens to see this painting in more than one perspective. The melting and drooping pocket watches or clocks symbolize the relativity of time and space., that time is not fixed and is relative. The figure in the center of the painting with its eyelids closed seems to personify  humans or maybe Dali’s dream state. It also shows a typical Dalínian background with the rocks of  Cape Creus beside the river. Many attribute this to the reason that Dali used to love the mountains near his childhood home and hence many of his paintings have mountains in the background drawing inspiration from memories of his childhood.

With everything around us weaved around time, memories and their interpretations, this painting is something everybody can relate to and interpret in their own way. This in fact is one of the specialties of surreal art works; the hallucinations and illustrations of these works are captivating and at the same time unleash the human potential to decipher hidden meanings.

Later during the years from 1952-1954, Dali created the famous ‘The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory’. Through this painting, Dali effectively portrayed various aspects of quantum mechanics and atomic explosions.

‘The Persistence of Memory’ is now with Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, the Artists Rights Society (ARS) museum, New York.