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Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion

also known as Clock Explosion

Artist: Salvador Dali
Created: c.1954
Dimensions (cm): 19.1 x 14.0
Format: Ink on paper
Location: Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Salvador Dali was one of the great artists of the surrealist movement. He had an extraordinary gift for artistic expression and thrived on the acquisition of knowledge, absorbing influences both from other artists and from contemporary philosophy and science. Men such as Sigmund Freud deeply influenced his way of perception and the way he painted.

Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion, (also known as The Melting Watch, Clock Explosion, or simply Explosion) is an example of this surrealist movement. Created in 1954, Dali used the presence of a dreamlike quality and ghostly appearance to accentuate the mysterious and unexplainable in his painting.

Surrealism rejects logic, reason and natural order. It uses techniques such as dreamlike or ghostly qualities, juxtaposition (a method for rejecting harmony in their work) and incorporates surreal objects and subject matter. Dali uses these same techniques in his painting Soft Watch at the Moment of Explosion to intrigue his viewers and provoke thought.

In his painting, Dali assimilates shadowy outlines of objects and uses the dreamlike quality in the way the watch twists and its broken pieces unexplainably float above it. Also, the ghostly way the watch drapes over one edge of the box as if melting. The watch seems to be pulling apart and stretching. It may denote Dali’s belief that time passing brings eventual destruction.

In Soft Watch at the Moment of Explosion, Dali incorporates a great deal of color juxtaposition. Most of the background consists of deep browns and gold and is contrasted by the white clock in the center of the painting. Dali’s painting also displays surreal objects, although most of these are in the foreground (a moth, a fly and a bizarre clock). In the background we see a small cluster of mountains.

Salvador Dali incorporating surreal techniques accentuated the mysterious and unexplainable in the painting Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion.


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