The faithful transcription of dreams has always played a major role in Dali's paintings. The painter had studied psycho-analysis and the works of Freud
before joining the
Surrealists. To dream is easy for him because of his Mediterranean heritage. A siesta, to him, has always opened the doors of a pre-sleep period, the instant when one forget the presence of one's body. Dali's demonology
owes a great deal to his reveries. They have given birth to heterogeneous elements which he then brings together in his paintings without always knowing why. In the works of the Surrealist period, Dali treated those
elements of disparate appearance with absolute realism which emphasized the proper character of each one of them, making an exact copy from a document, a photograph, or the actual object, as well as using collage.
He increased the effect produced even more through the use of techniques stemming from the precision of Vermeer
to the blurred shapes of Carriere. Once he had given an emotional
autonomy to his protagonists he established communication between them by depicting them in space - most often in a landscape - thus creating unity in the canvas by the juxtaposition of objects bearing no relation in an
environment where they did not belong. This spatial obsession derives from the atmosphere of Cadaques, where the light, due to the color of the sky and of the sea, seems to suspend the course of time and allows the mind
through the eye to glide more easily from one point to another. the famous painting in The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Persistence of Memory
is an excellent example of the foregoing and contains the
1) The soft head in the center is born of reveries. At Cape Creus, Dali had seen a rock whose shape was very similar to this head.
2) The watches, which he says are:"nothing more than the soft, extravagant, solitary, paranoiac-critical Camembert cheese of space and time... Hard or soft, what difference does it make! As long as they tell time accurately.
3) The precise image of ants in the sunshine. A leafless olive tree with its branches cut.
4) Last, the landscape. For the person who does not know the region where Dali lives, the violence of the color might seem excessive. It is nothing of the sort. On the contrary, this vivid color renders exactly the effect of the
light in the sky, on the sea, the seashore, and the rocks. The later cannot be specifically located; they are the generalization of all the landscapes Dali had seen and painted before. His great merit is to have succeeded in
synthesizing the ideal coast by use of familiar rocks and coves, thus giving the spectator the illusion of having seen them before.