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The Landscape of the Dark Land in The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

In Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, I see the landscape of a dark piece of land. As the dark land continues out to the edge of the island, it becomes a more sand colored terrain, or coastline, where its edge meets surrounding water. The region is also surrounded by a blue, cloud filled sky and another island emerging out of the distance. In the center of the piece, there appears to be a half of a face which is coated by the blanket of a melting pocket watch. To the left of this element, there is one pocket watch which is covered by an assembly of ants and next to it there are a couple other melting pocket watches.

I feel that a lot of emphasis was purposely put on the half face in the middle of Dali’s work. While the terrain encompassing this figure has a very dark value, the face is fairly light in comparison, despite a few variations within its tonal range, giving it a seemingly higher intensity. If the face wasn’t in this painting, I would say that the main point of focus would be the liquefying clocks. Their melting forms are very appealing to the eye. They give me the sense that solid reality is slowly being thawed away into a liquid state of nothing. In a way I think that could be a picture that Dali was trying to paint since the eyes on the half face are also closed, giving the impression that it could be in a state of slumber. The only defect I can find in this work would be the clustered appearance on the left of the painting contrasting with the emptier portion of the landscape on the right. I just feel that Dali’s painting should have more of an even distribution. Other than that, the fine details in the texture and value of his painting within objects such as the clocks, table, tree branch, and ground are incredible and in my opinion, are incredibly triumphant.

Salvador Dali often grasped mental invigoration for the creativity to make art from his life in Catalonia, Spain. In fact, that is what most of his paintings are based on; hence, the rocks in the far distance. They are actually a representation of a tip of Cap de Creus peninsula in north-eastern Catalonia. Dali also liked to incorporate pieces of himself into many of his works. With this knowledge, it’s safe to say that the half face in this piece is really Dali’s representational self, centered in the midst of The Persistence of Memory. Dali also meant for the pocket watches to simply represent Catalonian cheese melting and decaying. He, himself stated that they had no deeper meaning than that. Dali also painted this as he was experiencing his Freudian phase. He had a particular interest on Freud’s theories of dreams which explains all of the references to the state of sleeping such as his own sleeping face, and all of the unrealistic forms and ideas of the objects in his work.

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