In Time with Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali Crystal FX

Surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory is one of the most recognized works of the 20th century. Examine this painting and create your own interpretation of time inspired by the famous melting clocks portrayed in this masterpiece.

  • 1.

    Salvador Dali was a famous Spanish artist. He created many works over his life in a variety of mediums. His art and often his behavior were seen by many as eccentric. Research the life and art of Dali.

  • 2.

    Examine Salvador Dali’s painting, The Persistence of Memory. List the different elements, colors and images in the painting. Describe the emotions they evoke.

  • 3.

    Look closely at the melting clocks. What do you think they represent? Is time something you see as flexible? Why or why not?

  • 4.

    Create your own interpretation of how you see time passing. Using the painting as inspiration, use Crystal Effects Window Markers to decorate the face of a clock, a window, a mirror or another smooth surface. If you use a surface other than a clock, draw the face of a clock on the surface before you begin working on the project.

  • 5.

    Does time seem to stop or freeze for you sometimes? Do some days never seem to end? Have you ever said “Where did the day go?” Think of a way to interpret these feelings through images drawn on the clock. Use a variety of colors, lines and pictures to express your views on time. Share your clock with the class. What do your ideas have in common? How are they unique?


  • Students conduct research to learn about the life and art of Salvador Dali.
  • Students describe and interpret the elements in Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.
  • Students create a drawing interpretation of the passing of time with Crystal Effects Window Markers on a clock, window or another smooth surface.


  • What other artists are included in the Surrealist movement? Create artist “trading cards” with facts and famous works for five of these artists.
  • The Persistence of Memory is currently displayed at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City. Go to their website for more information on the painting.
  • Assessment. Students evaluate their project based on content, technique and design. In addition, they compose a short essay on their personal interpretation of The Persistence of Memory.