employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark
"soft watches" that first appear in The Persistence of
Memory suggest Einstein's theory that time is relative and not fixed.
The idea for clocks functioning symbolically in this way came to
Dalí when he was staring at a runny piece of Camembert cheese
on a hot day in August.
elephant is also a recurring image in Dalí's works. It first
appeared in his 1944 work Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around
a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening. The elephants, inspired
by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture base in Rome of an elephant
carrying an ancient obelisk, are portrayed "with long, multijointed,
almost invisible legs of desire" along with obelisks on their
backs. Coupled with the image of their brittle legs, these encumbrances,
noted for their phallic overtones, create a sense of phantom reality.
"The elephant is a distortion in space," one analysis
explains, "its spindly legs contrasting the idea of weightlessness
with structure."I am painting pictures which make me die for
joy, I am creating with an absolute naturalness, without the slightest
aesthetic concern, I am making things that inspire me with a profound
emotion and I am trying to paint them honestly." Salvador
Dalí, in Dawn Ades, Dalí and Surrealism.
egg is another common Dalíesque image. He connects the egg
to the prenatal and intrauterine, thus using it to symbolize hope
and love; it appears in The Great Masturbator and The Metamorphosis
of Narcissus. Various animals appear throughout his work as well:
ants point to death, decay, and immense sexual desire; the snail
is connected to the human head (he saw a snail on a bicycle outside
Freud's house when he first met Sigmund Freud); and locusts are
a symbol of waste and fear.
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