I would like to apply this knowledge to Dali’s The Persistence of Memory. There are certain elements of art and at the same time certain principles of design that depict this artwork as being one of the strongest examples of Surrealism. It is said that the idea for this painting occurred to Dali upon noting the melting of cheese, and he got the remaining elements in a dream.
One interpretation could be that the use of melting watches as the subject matter indicates that Salvador Dali in this work used these objects as a reminder to the viewer that time is always fleeting and it is slipping away from us even as we speak or view the painting. At the same time, the clock literally is a very clear illustration of the time gone by which tells us of things that we cannot get back anymore or perhaps gives the notion of fleeting objects. At the same time, the use of a clock metaphorically can be attributed to our memories.
Another interpretation that has been suggested is that this work shows the irrelevance of time while we sleep compared to our preoccupation with it during our waking hours. It is said that Dali painted this work in an era of his life in which he was influenced by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theories about memory and the interpretation of dreams (Dali et al). It is not difficult to imagine the artist’s concept of a dreamlike state of time and memory being depicted through this painting. One can also relate this painting to the function of recall in memory- there are fleeting glimpses or feelings of having met someone before upon crossing them in the street and suddenly it all connects and the memory solidifies and becomes clear a bit later.
Another oddity that can be pointed out is that while nearly all the clocks are shown melting away, the orange one on the extreme left of the wooden block is the only one that retains its shape. It is seen that ants have selected the center of it as a focal point of sorts. Perhaps this is depicting our preoccupation with time during our waking hours by the artist.