Persistence of Memory Close-up

johnwjohnw -
edited September 2013 in General Discussion
As a complete beginner, I just wanted to discuss Dali's painting methods in this close-up of his most famous work;


I'm really just awestruck at the fineness of detail on such a small canvas (9.5" x 13"), and the light dry-ish brush strokes near the number "7" on the clock, where the texture of the canvas appears to pixellate the yellow paint, and the fine small brush work on the number '"7" itself, with the a few errant spots of black, and also the errant line of paint on the fly's left foreleg, where he appears to have overshot the mark.

I'm guessing that he worked in layers that dried before applying the next.

This makes me want to go to MoMA with a quality camera, and take some super close-ups, and copy the work.

I wonder if he used a pocket watch as a model, or if he painted entirely from imagination?

Would love to hear any comments/opinions on this work.

Here's another;

I love the flesh tones in the surreal head, which appears to be the more fleshy color over a more muted gray.
No matter how much I zoom in, (control +) more and more details become visible, it's really hard to get down to brush stroke level.

I also marvel at the subtle wood grain on the box.

His wife, Gala, must truly have been stunned when he unveiled it to her for the first time.


  • edited September 2013
    Dali had a very clean style of painting. From looking at this photo I would guess that the face composed of the redish brown warm ground, with the grey on top - this would be more lumnous than the other way around. The same colour ground is also visible on the table at the top. Dalis drawing skill can be seen in the eybrows and eylashes, with sure confident strokes

    Would be a good one to copy.

    I always wondered if Dali was making reference to relativy in this picture - but I dont think he was.
  • @paul_s
    (I fixed a broken link that didn't show the first image.)
  • I'm reading Dalis' Diary of a Genius at the moment, amazing glimpse into his world and he mentions using amber as a medium (i've quickly read up and it looks like it was used as a varnish and medium in the 17th Century), he liked his paint very liquid. Also I found interesting that if he made a mistake (even geniuses make mistakes...!) he would rub the paint out with a potato.
  • @stevey
    I need to pick that one up. There also is very detailed information in "50 secrets of magic craftsmanship," which was a great read, and he also mentions the potato trick.
    he gives his medium recipes, detailed notes of which favorite paints to use, (he hated burnt umber oddly, maybe it was not as good back then) painting and drawing techniques, good stuff, although some of it is completely off the wall and pretty funny, he is authentic, sincere and informative.

  • Thanks Johnw, i was wondering whether to pick up the "50 secrets" book, you've swayed me now. Authentic, sincere and informative is a pretty good summation of the "Genius" book too though maybe less on the informative side. The name dropping (Coco Chanel, Cocteau, Picasso etc) is jaw dropping and makes a mockery of the so-called celebrities of today.
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