How Salvador Dalí’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ Was Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s Work With Dreams

Art vlogger James Payne of Great Art Explained takes a look at the Salvador Dali painting The Persistence of Memory. Payne notes how the artist was influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and his theories of subconscious mind at work while dreaming. Dalí’s use of a dreamlike fantasy incorporating his own insecurities, according to Payne, is revealed in this iconic work of art.

Despite its huge  cultural impact, it is quite small. About the size of a sheet of paper. Dali plays with a perception  of scale, and presents a huge desert landscape with vast depths of field, reduced to a shrunken  world. …One thing is clear, Time, like the watches is  fluid…”The Persistence of Memory” IS about the fluidity  of memory, dreams, and time – but the melting watches,  the dead tree, and the parasitic insects, all  point to Dali’s obsession with death and decay.  

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