Limitations of Time

Salvador Dalí’s painting, The Persistence of Memory uses the imagery of melting clocks to depict how time creates limitations and through the melting and corrosion of the clocks representing time, he illustrates that humans should veer away from restrictions and live a more indulging and relaxed lifestyle.
The painting displays the feeling of heat and lifelessness as melting clocks lay flimsily on dead trees and dirt. The ticking time machines look to be personal watches or rather a stopwatch. All of the clocks point to six o’clock, which indicates either a sunrise or sunset. However, there is a noticeably dark shadow covering the area where the melting clocks are placed. The center image looks similar to a nude blob, which could portray an animal, or perhaps a human that is dead and slowly fading into the dull dirt, but upon looking closely at the image, it becomes a noticeable human face with distinguishable eyelashes on the closed eye along with the outline of a nose. Along with the idea of fading and decay, the orange clock seems to be covered in some black specks that may lead to deterioration. Overall, the painting portrays a negative interpretation of the idea of time and the notion of how time should not matter; hence the melting clocks and the lifelessness surrounding them.
The Persistence of Memory conveys the limitations time creates on life and how such limitations should be abolished through Dalí’s representation of the melting clocks. The painting’s portrayal of dullness generates the proposal that with every passing second revolving around deadlines and the time spent waiting for the next deadline, people are creating a tedious life in which all they worry about is time as opposed to living in the moment. The center image of the human face represents the decay of life as the nude skin color is starting to fade into the dark, brown dirt. The closed eye on the face also depicts the impression of lifelessness as it also acts as a metaphor in the way that an open eye represents awareness, the ability to view its horizons, and take in the beauty of life. With the eyes closed, Dalí is illustrating that as a person revolves around timing, they are too focused on what happens next rather than taking in and enjoying that moment. Following the motif of darkness and dullness, the dark shadow, covering the melting clocks and face acts as a microcosm for the world that is caught up in working from one deadline to the next. However as the shadow fades, the image of a clear sky and smooth blue water on the open horizon appears, portraying the idea that beyond the dark world revolving around time and limitations, is a world of brightness and freedom.
Salvador Dalí is expressing that the usage of time as a way of setting restrictions and limitations for oneself. By eliminating the presence of time and the confines it creates, a person can live a more independent, carefree life.

Dalí, Salvador. The Persistence of Memory, 1931. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Wikipedia. Web. 1 Oct 2013.

Salvador Dali, "The Persistance of Memory," 1931

Salvador Dali, “The Persistance of Memory,” 1931

Creative Commons License
Limitations of Time by Morrison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.