“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.”
While attending graduate school in Tampa several years ago, I became a volunteer docent at the Salvador Dali musuem in Florida. I have always been fascinated by the way in which Dali was able to transform the world of dreams and the unconscious into a tangible visual language.
Born in Figueres, Spain in 1904, Salvador Dali was a versatile artist, known for the quality of his imagination and his technical skills. He was a prominent figure in the Surrealist movement and transformed the world of art. His eccentric manner sometimes drew more attention than his artwork to the dismay of those who held his work in high regard.
Characteristic of his works of this period are odd objects scattered across barren landscapes creating a hallucinatory, dream-like work that has become synonymous with the Surrealist movement as a whole. Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. One of his most famous works, The Persistence of Memory has many interpretations including the following. Some are more meaningful, others remain elusive.
- the drooping pocket watches suggest the irrelevance of time during sleep. In other words, when we are asleep, time does not persist, but memories do
- another interpretation of this painting may suggest Einstein’s theory that time is relative and is not fixed
Dali’s affiliation with the Surrealists was, however, fraught with tension which stemmed from his unwillingness to conform and his approach to self-promotion. In 1934, Dali was “expelled” from the Surrealist group and for the rest of his life created works which defied characterization.
By the time Dali passed away in 1989, he had already become one of the most well-known and important artists of all-time, remembered for his eccentricity, experimentation and definitive role in the history of modern art.
What is your favorite Dali piece of art? What do you think the melting clocks symbolize?
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