Dali’s Persistence of Memory


The Museum of Modern Art in New York city, where Dali’s Persistence of Memory has been housed since 1934. Photo by inexhibit.com

Dzung Nguyen

Art has undoubtedly been an essential part of my life and my identity. When I was a little girl, I often came up with stories about superheroes, princesses and talking animals. With crayons and sheets of paper, I made these stories come to life. When my uncle, a freelance artist, came across my sketchbooks and stories, he decided to let me tag along to his art studio. It was in Uncle Tây’s studio that I developed a keen interest in art. I remember seeing a version of Vermeer’s realistic The Girl with a Pearl Earrings next to Pollock’s abstract Lavender Mist and wondering how art can be so diverse, unique and personal.
As I toured around the space, one piece of artwork, which was neither abstract or realistic, caught my attention. It was Salvador Dali’s surrealistic Persistence of Memory. Looking at this painting with the eyes of the nine year-old me was a unique experience. I recall asking my uncle why someone left a pomegranate on the table, why a duck was left dying in the middle of the desert, and why pizzas were made to look like clocks. Instead of giving me answers, Uncle Tây let out a big grin and told me that I can take the painting home.

Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory. Photo by wikiart.org
Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory. Photo by wikiart.org
After that day, I hung Dali’s Persistence of Memory on the blank wall above my bookshelf. Once in awhile, I’d sit on my bed and stare at the artwork. Every such time, the questions kept coming back, and new questions continued to emerge. When curiosity took over, I would reach for my computer and hope that Wikipedia would satisfy that curiosity. However, I constantly told myself to resist the urge to do so because I was afraid that after I found out the artist’s true intentions and the meaning behind the artwork’s components, the artwork itself would no longer be interesting and captivating. Even though I knew that I would enjoy learning about the true meaning behind Persistence of Memory and what the dying duck or the clock pizzas really are, I refrained from looking for definite answers from external sources; I wanted to continue asking the questions.
What are some of the things that you see in Dali’s Persistence of Memory? Leave a comment below!