Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Surrealism: Salvador Dali

The Persistence of Memory

Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark "melting watches" that first appear in The Persistence of Memory suggest Einstein's theory that time is relative and not fixed. The idea for clocks functioning symbolically in this way came to Dalí when he was staring at a runny piece of Camembert cheese on a hot August day.

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

"In the Surrealist period, I wanted to create the iconography of the interior world and the world of the marvelous, of my father Freud. Today, the exterior world and that of physics has transcended the one of psychology. My father today is Dr. Heisenberg."

In this respect, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, which appeared in 1954, in hearkening back to The Persistence of Memory, and in portraying that painting in fragmentation and disintegration summarizes Dalí's acknowledgment of the new science.

Dalí had been greatly interested in nuclear physics since the first atomic bomb explosions of August 1945, and described the atom as his "favourite food for thought". Recognising that matter was made up of atoms which did not touch each other, he sought to replicate this in his art at the time, with items suspended and not interacting with each other. To Dalí, this image was symbolic of the new physics—the quantum world which exists as both particles and waves. The imagery of the originalPersistence of Memory can be read as a representation of Einstein's theory of relativity (although Dalí himself denied the connection to the theory), symbolizing the relativity of time and space. In this new work, quantum mechanics is symbolized by "digitizing" the old image.

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