1907 – 1960
Age of Global Conflict

Dali's The Persistence of Memory


Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, oil on canvas, 9 1/2 x 13" / 24.1 x 33 cm (The Museum of Modern Art)

Speakers: Sal Khan and Steven Zucker 

Your Comments (5)

Previous Comments

Nicole Davenport wrote on Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This was a good, overall summary of the painting. This particular picture would probably take several lectures to delve into the heart of it. One has to remember that Salvador Dali and Walt Disney were friends. Both were fascinated by the dream world....Dali uses a lot of symbolism in this picture to prompt the viewer to consider alternative views, perspectives and ideas about life and its meaning...in this painting, his primary focus was

Amy Cook wrote on Sunday, March 03, 2013

Dr. Zucker describes this painting as confrontation of reality – of questioning the human-made convention and object of time. Knowing that Dali was likely familiar with the work of Freud, he guesses that Dali made this painting as a visual expression of our more imaginative and unpredictable subconscious, one that knows no boundaries of reality and time. What I question is whether or not Dali had this (or any) symbolic intention for the particular images that he painted, or if he only provided them as signifiers for us to make into signs? Knowing that people have a natural urge to connect texts in order make narratives, Dali would have created the ultimate Surrealist painting by creating a spread of images open to interpretation that the subconscious mind could feast upon – much like the automatism or the nonsensical film, Un Chien Andalou, which Dali created with Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunel. I think that Dali wanted his painting to be nonsensical. What do you think he intended with this image?

Nicole Arseneault wrote on Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory is one of my favorite paintings. I am inspired by his dreamscapes. I enjoy his realistic imagery and how Dali abstracts the viewers objected reality.

Samantha Landry wrote on Wednesday, March 06, 2013

First and foremost, the small scale of this work shocked me. I have never seen this painting in person therefore; I always though that this work would be of large scale due to the popularity of this piece. Because Dali has depicted a personal dream of his, it is possible that the tininess of Dali’s painting is utilized in order provoke the viewer to interact with the painting on an intimate level. On the other, in reference to the Freudian theory of the dream state, dreams are encrypted by memories of the unconscious. Therefore due to Dali’s assumed self-portrait and the representation of his homeland in the background, perhaps this is Dali’s way of exposing his repressed memory of the subconscious.

Brittany Baker wrote on Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I am very inspired by the work of Salvador Dali. I really enjoy how he expresses very complex themes within his work while emhasizing the surreal aspects to make contraditions and creates a space for discussion and conversation. I feel as if I am able to submerge myself into his work and am transported to the postmodern hyperreality that he is trying to portray.

Add Comments

We think Smarthistory works best when it prompts discussion. Please post (on-topic) comments.*

*All comments are moderated

To post a comment, you need the Adobe Flash Plugin. Download it from here.
This work is an open educational resource and This work is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license.