Culture Up: The Persistence of Memory

Yep. The melting clocks painting. That’s how we uncultured folks refer to it.

Painted by surrealist painter Salvador Dali in 1931, it currently resides in the Museum of Modern art in New York City.  It stands at a tiny 9.5″x13″. I have a graduation portrait hanging in my father’s house that’s bigger than that.

Apparently (and you can fact check me on this) this was painted during a self-induced hallucination.  Apparently, Dali tried to trip out without the use of hallucinogenics and this is what he came up with (well, this and nearly everything else he painted).

According to art experts (and the parents that support them – BURN!), Dali was inspired by Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and the soft, melting watches symbolizes the relativity of time and space.  According to Dali himself, he was inspired by a wheel of cheese melting in the sun. So there’s that.


While Dali was a surrealist – and his painting is definitely surreal – evidently he was not considered a surrealist when he painted this.  His surrealist friends found out he had fascist leanings and they kicked him out of their little surrealist club.


To which Dali responded, “I am surrealism.”

Whatever you say, sunshine.

I gotta tell you, this painting does nothing for me. I really enjoyed A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and all its little symbolism and secrets, but this surrealist stuff just means nothing. Of course, I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point. It’s just a way of looking at the world and pushing the boundaries of creativity.  To Dali’s and the other surrealists’ credit, this was some pretty cool stuff considering it came about in the 1920’s and ’30’s

And, of course, no piece of high culture is complete without us plebians parodying it.


Honestly, what hasn’t The Simpsons parodied?




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