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Salvador Dali

By: Kara Armellino/Instructional Paraprofessional 

When learning about Art History’s most famous works of art, several masterworks immediately come to mind.  Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and Monet’s Water Lily Pond are just some of these renowned works.   However, one painting in particular is equally recognized but not as easily understood.  It was created by art’s most distinguished surrealist, Salvador Dali.  While many people simply refer to it as the “melting clock painting”, this painting is officially titled The Persistence of Memory and served as the inspiration for the Art History students at Ocean Academy in creating their own melting clock.

While looking at art, most viewers want to make sense of what they are looking at.  We try to give meaning to what we interpret as symbolism, even when it might not be there.  Dali’s The Persistence of Memory is said to be a response to Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and his equation of E=mc2, critics say.  However, when asked, Dali’s explanation was a bit…cheesier.  What exactly did Dali say was his inspiration for his most famous painting?

Yes.  Salvador Dali was inspired by a wheel of “camembert cheese that had melted” after being left in the sun.  Students used this idea and created their own melting clocks which were then assembled collage-style on a Dali background recreated by Miss Kara.

Salvador Dali said that his paintings were “hand-painted dream photographs.”  What can we take from Dali’s surrealist paintings such as The Persistence of Memory?  Perhaps we don’t always have to understand or define something in order to appreciate it.