Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Persistence of Memory
The Persistence of Memory is one of the most famous paintings by artist Salvador Dalí. Painted in 1931, it first exhibited the following year. The painting has also been known as Soft Watches. It measures 24 x 33 cm (9.4 x 13 in). The painting The Persistence of Memory is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.
Dalí began the painting with one of his favorite themes, a landscape of the seashore of Catalonia at Cape Creus. He was moved to include the famous melting-clock imagery after a vision he had following a snack of Camembert cheese - the clocks, therefore, have the texture of the soft cheese. The painting shows four soft watches, one of which has a fly on it and another is being devoured by ants. This is widely seen as a commentary that time is less rigid than people usually assume.
In the center of the picture, under one of the watches, is a distorted human face in profile. This face also appears in Dalí's earlier work The Great Masturbator.
The painting soon became the best known of Dalí's works, and has frequently been reproduced in postcards, posters, and other media. By 1938 it was so much a part of popular culture that versions of Persistence appear in the background of the animated cartoon Porky in Wackyland.
Dalí returned to the theme of this painting with the variation The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1954), showing his earlier famous work falling apart into component parts and a series of rectangles; this work is now in the Dalí Museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Dalí also produced various lithographs and sculptures on the theme of soft watches late in his career.
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