Posted by: Mish | October 29, 2007

It’s Not the Size That Matters

Because I seem to be in a story telling mood…

Although I’ve been down to New York City numerous times, I never managed to get to the Museum of Modern Art, fondly called the MoMA. I was finally able to wander its galleries last fall. Needless to say, I loved every moment and am looking forward to my next visit.

While looking through the pamphlet of exhibits, a piece I’ve loved for years grabs my attention. My friend and I meander our way through the galleries, taking our time to stop and enjoy everything. Okay, so we weren’t able to see everything, but we saw as much as we could in four hours. We had dinner and a play to catch, and Broadway doesn’t wait.

Eventually, I find myself in front of the painting I’ve wanted to see for so long. After taking it in slowly, with a chuckle I turn to my friend and say, “It’s small, very, very small”. Measuring 24 × 33 cm, it was smaller than I thought it would be. I wasn’t expecting 8 feet wide mind you, but the poster one could buy from the museum is larger than in actuality. It was an amusing moment.

Salvador Dali's Persistence of MemoryA moment’s reflection

I was thrilled by the oil’s fluidity, colour, and imagery. I wanted to melt right into it, an absolutely exquisite feeling. I was enthralled by the painting that seemed to whisper, “Memory after time, and even time itself, bend and morph.” The darker hues in the lower right represented the past, and the upper lighter and brighter hues represented the future. Time itself is ticking, changing us. That’s my personal interpretation of Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory anyway.

The painting may be small, but it can have a gigantic impact and is probably one of his most famous works. This just goes to show that it isn’t the size that matters, but how it makes you feel.

Salvador Dali's "Dali Atomica"Dalí Atomica series by Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman



  1. Now that the picture is so famous its size doesn’t matter. But I’ll bet when Salvador Dalí tried to sell it in the 1930´s (?) he couldn’t put a big price on such a small picture. People won’t pay much for something little. Little looks to them like a trifle.
    That’s one thing. The other is that details in such a small picture go unseen. Don’t you wish Dali´s picture were bigger so you could see the details better? “Don’t make little figures,” my old Spanish sculpture “master” used to tell me. “For the same work and time you can produce something [big] that displays you better ( ‘luces más’)”.

  2. That’s a good point. Most people don’t get that “good things come in small packages”. And taken from the point of view of the times between now and then (yes, 1930s), bigger is better. (It can also be more difficult finding space for bigger.)

    I can understand why your old “master” would say that. And yes, it would be nice if it Persistence were bigger for the reasons you stated. But I think it also adds to the piece’s charm.

  3. I didn’t end up seeing the Melting Clocks / Persistence of Memory. However, I did see this stunning work by Dali, with Christ on the Cross. Think it was called Corpus Hypercubus (spelling?), and was blown away.

    I really want to go back now.

  4. I hear ya. I’d like to see that one, and any Dali for that matter.

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