Dalí has imbued the present work, executed in 1975, with elements he depicted during his own lifelong obsession with sex and the fleeting passage of time. With the bravura of an Old Master draftsman, Dalí delineates with great flourish the figures flanking the limp timepiece. Sensuously rendered, Venus stands at left holding a mirror, an attribute for vanity and lust. She is self-absorbed and seemingly unaware that she is entangled in Vulcan’s net. At right sits an angel, a divine messenger of life and death, in contemplation before the keeper of time in our waking state. In the dream state, however, the watch or clock is no longer relevant; our reality has morphed the distortion of time and memories become obfuscated.
Unlike Albert Einstein, whose explanation of space-time was given in a mathematical equation, the artist responded to questions about the significance of the soft-clock motif by calling for more questions than the desired answer, “Rest assured, the famous soft clocks are merely the soft, crazy, lonely, paranoid-critical Camembert of time and space” (Dalí, Conquest of the Irrational, New York, 1935).
The title of the work relates to Gala’s response when Dalí asked her whether in three years time she would have forgotten the painting. She replied, “no one can forget it once he has seen it” (Paul Moorhouse, Dalí, London, 1990, p. 49).
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