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Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory, 1931, is one of Salvador DaliÆs most famous paintings, a visual attempt to portray dreams, unconsciousness, and hallucinations. In his works, Dali often used the seven formal elements of art design (line, shape, form, space, texture, light and color) to portray his perception of unconscious states of mind. This analysis will critique DaliÆs success in achieving this goal via his use of these art design elements.

Dali uses a number of straight, curved, and wavy lines in his construction, symbolizing the often vague boundaries of matter and perception. His work features a closed pocket watch and three clocks. The lines of the clocks are curved to the degree where they appear ômeltedö over a tree limb, a bluff, and what appears to be a carcass. This use of line expresses the feeling that the distinctions of time are arbitrary and blurred, while creating the image that time moves or melts irregardless of human intentions.

Dali uses shape to portray the moods and feelings experienced by the unconscious mind. His shapes are a mixture of symmetrical objects, like the rectangular bluff supporting a tree and another rectangular plane beyond and above it. Juxtaposed with these symmetrical images are the organic tree and sea and the non-symmetrical clocks and carcass in the foreground. The flat shapes create the illusion of three dimensions, while the non-symmetrical objects express the nature of fantasy pitted against reality which represents the unconscious mind.

The illusionistic representation of a three dimensional form on a one-dimensional space provides the form to DaliÆs The Persistence of Memory. The landscape provides us mass and volume. The form conveys volume from the depiction of the ocean, while the view of Cape CreseusÆ craggy rocks jutting out of the background provide mass. The form of the carcass provides it with dimensions of bo


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Persistence of Memory. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:59, June 15, 2019, from