The art world is a place where only a few can venture, a world where it seems the senile and mentally deranged get the spotlight. Salvador Dali was no different, expressing his imagination as revealed in his dreams. When you observe a painting by Salvador Daliyou may ask yourself what could he have possibly been thinking of when created this image, or was he thinking? Maybe he was just letting the paintbrush flow across the paper, we may never know but we can choose to interpret.

Salvador Dali’s The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory is a tremendously fascinating piece. This painting makes you wonder what this man dreams of, it is so complex and then again to some it may seem so simple. What man’s dreams consist of melting clocks, half of a fish, a mountain in the distance, and all of it dissolving on the side of an office building? Wait a second a clock is melting? One may take one look at this painting and just forget about looking deeper into this work of art and just determine that Dali should be shipped off to the nearest mental institution. As for me I was intrigued by the creation and imagination used by Dali.

After observing the painting for days, I began to decipher what each characteristic about the painting meant to me. I pondered, “Well maybe that isn’t an office building, well what could it be?” As I slowly examined this painting, picking it apart piece by piece. I determined that this work of art is a representation of a river emptying into a valley. As the river empties into the valley, the clock that is first completely submerged beneath the river begins to crawl out, the clock seems to demonstrate the loss of a person’s memory. As time passes, represented in the flow of the river, the clock begins to climb out of the river to hang from a tree limb. To me this piece seems to depict its title perfectly, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory. As the clock represents a person’s memory, the blocks or logs represent the workings of the mind and the tree limb seems to show the viewer that the memory has been “hung out to dry.”

Berger’s statement, “The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe,” is related closely to our society today. As for much of our society today has lost its appreciation for art or the art’s meaning, for many people choose not to endeavor into the art world for they don’t know much about it. Our society avoids situations where their knowledge does not satisfy the circumstances. Basically, if we don’t know much about the subject we avoid it at all cost, many times its not just art but everything from subjects in school or activities that we have no experience in. Too much of the dismay of artists, art is a lost world.

One may look at Dali’s The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory and venture into the mental processes of determining the meaning of the painting. Well this is true for a select few, but as Berger stated in the Ways of Seeing, more often that not we don’t decipher the painting for lack of knowledge. Well as this is a horrible mistake, a person can determine the meaning of the painting without knowing a thing about the art form. For it is not necessary to know specifics about paint strokes or the use of a color scheme to determine mood. All a person needs to do is relate this painting and all of its elements to their life. Well as art-viewers slowly deteriorate as a group, the art itself seems to lose its mystification day after day.

You as a reader may say, “Mystification, of course art is a mystical world. Every artist should be locked up and the key should be thrown away.” Well that’s not what I am trying to say here. “Mystification is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident.” To me this statement, is vague and unclear, but at a second glance, much like art itself should be looked at from a different view, art is mystical in that the artist may have a meaning for every attribute of the painting but every person who views the piece is entitled to their own opinion. That’s what mystification means to me, it’s the way something can have one meaning to one but have another meaning to the rest of the world. Thus giving the art world a mystical feeling, the sensation that this painting belongs to me.


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