The Persistence of Memory

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Dr. Reza Kibria

Editor’s Choice: A Selection of Important Works of Art

This section introduces readers to a selection of great works of art, primarily paintings of the Western World. The works chosen include some personal favourites, others which are well-known or influential in some way and yet others representative of a particular school of art. The impact of a work of art is of course many times greater when the original is seen. If possible readers should try to visit the galleries and museums housing these priceless treasures

The Persistence of Memory”, Salvador Dali, 1931, oil on canvas, 24x33cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York


Salvador Dali (1904-89), regarded as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, was a noted painter, sculptor and designer. Dali spent his time between his birthplace in Catalonia, Madrid, Paris and New York. He is best known for his Surrealist paintings with their powerful and unexpected imagery. The Persistence of Memory, also known as Soft Watches or Melting Clocks, is a relatively small painting, symbolizing the distortion and changes of memory over time or perhaps the changed perception of time in a dream state. It is one of his most famous works and embedded in the popular consciousness.  Note the distorted human face in the center and the ants on the plate, symbolizing decay.  Dali's own description of his art was that they were "hand-painted dream photographs."