The small painting entitled The Persistence of Memory, generally known as The Soft Clocks, is certainly Dali’s most famous work. It is configured as an enigmatic vision: a vast desert landscape, obtained with a uniform background of dark brown, gives way in the background to a body of limpid water, in which the rocks are reflected; the sky is yellow and blue and is full of a surreal atmosphere; in the foreground, creeping and monstrous, an elongated face with a pronounced nose and very long eyelashes, one of the typical figures that populate the universe of Dalì.
On the deformed being, on the by now withered tree branch and on the rectangle that serves as a table at the left end of the picture rest three “soft” clocks, which are as if loose and lacking in consistency.
The composition is built on the approach of contrasting elements: the desert and the dry tree, symbols of death, and the bay with water, the source of life; the soft consistency of the clocks and the solid hardness of the rocks and the continuous reference to the themes of transformation and metamorphosis, evident in the larvae and insects that affect the solid structure of the closed clock, in the foreground, which is also destined to be corrupted, and in watches that seem to be on the verge of liquefying. The work offers itself to multiple readings focused on time, represented by the clocks that in our era reign supreme over nature and man, bringing him back to the inevitability of death, to which the desert refers.
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