The famous melting clocks represent the omnipresence of time, and identify its mastery over human beings. The inspiration for this concept came from a dream of runny Camembert one hot August afternoon. These symbols represent a metaphysical image of time devouring itself and everything else.
Dalí’s art drew from his everyday life and extracted seemingly arbitrary things such as infinite desert plains, marble statues, bicycles or telephones and used them as icons where through their isolation they became symbols for deeper emotional themes. Dalí explored his own fears and fantasies through these symbolic images captured in various mediums.
Dalí Melting Clocks
When Dalí was five years old, he saw an insect that had been eaten by ants and of which nothing remained except the shell. The swarming ants in Dalí’s pictures and sculptures are references to death and decay, and are reminders of human mortality and impermanence. They are also said to represent overwhelming sexual desire.
The egg is another favourite Dalinian motif, given the duality of its hard exterior and soft interior. Dalí links the egg to pre-natal images and the intra-uterine universe, and thus it is a symbol of both hope and love.
The crutch is one of Dalí’s most important images and features in many of his works. It is first and foremost a symbol of reality and an anchor in the ground of the real world, providing spiritual and physical support for inadequacy in life. The crutch is also the symbol of tradition, upholding essential human values.
Dalí’s elephants are usually depicted with long, multi-jointed, almost invisible legs of desire, and carry objects on their backs. These elephants represent the future and are also a symbol of strength. They are often shown carrying obelisks, which are symbols of power and domination, and not without phallic overtones. The weight supported by the spindly legs show weightlessness, only made more significant by the burden of their backs.
The drawers arise from their Freudian explanation as a representation of the concealed sexuality of women. Dalí portrays many of the drawers to be slightly ajar, indicating that their secrets are known and no longer to be feared.
The Snail occupies an important place in the Dalinian universe as it is intimately linked to a significant event in Dalí’s life – his meeting with Sigmund Freud. As Dalí believed that nothing occurred to him simply by accident, he was captivated when he saw a snail on a bicycle outside Freud’s house. He connected the snail with a human head, more particularly with Freud’s head. As with the egg and lobster, the hard shells and soft interiors of the snails also fascinated Dalí, and the geometry of their curves enchanted him.