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Dali Symbolism: The Melting Clock

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Everyone is familiar with Salvador Dali’s iconic melting clocks, but most people don’t know the symbolism and meaning behind them. Dali’s most famous painting “Persistence of Memory” features these dripping clocks, but what do they mean?  Dali has said that while he was painting, time had no influence on him. This could relate to his depictions of the c  locks being loose, as if time is not relevant or fixed.

Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, 1931

This painting is a hard one to grasp with strange juxtapositions of some familiar objects and some that are unrecognizable. Some people are often surprised by the realism in this piece considering the scene is very irrational and weird. It almost feels like a scene from a dream, which is a major theme in many Surrealism paintings.  A considered theory about the clocks is that they represent the time which escapes us while we are asleep. Another theory is that the clocks relate to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which was a groundbreaking new idea during the 1930’s. The clocks may have represented the relation between space and time.

When asked about the meaning of the clocks, Dali said he was inspired by a wheel of cheese that had melted. Some say this answer was just the artist being comical, however there may be some seriousness to it. There is no definite explanation that explains the symbolism of the melting clocks, but through them, Salvador Dali created one of the most iconic works of art of the 20th century and his clocks remain timeless.

You can see this print along with the rest of the Biblia Sacra suite from November 4th to January 26th at Baterbys Art Gallery. All 105 lithographs from his Biblia Sacra will be on display. Don’t miss out on this amazing exhibition of the greatest Surrealism artist. Admission is only $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. For more information please visit the event page. See you there!