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The Persistence of Memory
The Persistence of Memory.jpg
Artist Salvador Dalí
Year 1931 (1931)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 24 cm × 33 cm (9.5 in × 13 in)
Location Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Owner Museum of Modern Art

The Persistence of Memory (Spanish: La persistencia de la memoria; Catalan: La persistència de la memòria) is a painting by artist Salvador Dalí. It was done in 1931. It is one of his most famous paintings.

The painting was first shown in 1932. It has been in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City since 1934. The painting typifies what critics call "surrealism". It is easy to recognise and is often used in popular culture.

Description

The painting was the first to have a melting pocket watch, called a "soft watch". Some people thought that the soft watch was inspired by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Dalí said that the watches were not inspired by the theory of relativity, but by Camembert cheese melting in the sun.

There is a human in the middle of the painting. The orange clock at the bottom left is covered in ants. Dalí often used ants in his paintings as a symbol for death.

The Persistence of Memory uses "the exactitude of realist painting techniques". In practice, the painting looks more like something a person might see in a dream, rather than awake.

Landscape

The rocks to the right are supposed to be a tip of the Cap de Creus peninsula in north-eastern Catalonia. Many of Dalí's paintings were inspired by the landscapes of Catalonia. There is a strange shadow in the foreground of the painting, which is a reference to Mount Pani.

Versions

Dalí returned to this idea with The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1954). This painting is in the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first Persistence of Memory is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Dalí also made many lithographs and sculptures of soft watches.

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