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Exhibits + Collection

Oil, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, 1952-54, Oil on canvas

Artwork Details


The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory


Salvador Dalí

Date Made


Place Made



Oil on canvas


Image: 10 in x 13 in

Accession ID Number


Credit Line

Gift of A. Reynolds & Eleanor Morse




Worldwide rights ©Salvador Dalí. Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (Artists Rights Society), 2017 / In the USA ©Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc. St. Petersburg, FL 2017.

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The reappearance of the inspirational rock formation at the Bay of Cullero and the forlorn olive tree links this composition back to the original painting. In contrast to his 1931 Persistence of Memory, the 1952-54 Disintegration shows the world altered by the nuclear age. The rectangular blocks represent the “atomic power source,” and the form of the head of the Great Masturbator is depicted in a fluid manner. The addition to the original painting of the missile-like objects flying in the background connects the work more clearly to the atomic bomb, yet the form is actually a rhino horn. Dalí found the rhino horn to be a symbol of absolute perfection, and referred to this phase of his career in the early 1950s as his “rhinocerotic” period.

In The Secret Life, Dalí wrote about the original Persistence of Memory: "I was about to turn out the light when instantaneously I saw the solution. I saw two soft watches, one of them hanging lamentably on the branch of the olive tree." After seeing the work that Dalí completed in an afternoon, Gala commented, "No one can forget the image once he as seen it."

Exhibition History:
1952, New York, Carstairs Gallery, Dalí: The First Mystico-Nuclear paintings and the Assumpta Corpuscularia Lapislazulina
1954, New York, Carstairs Gallery, “Dali 1954”
1965, New York, Gallery of Modern Art, “Salvador Dalí, 1910-1965”
2004, Venezia, Palazzo Grassi, "Dali Retrospective"
2005, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Dali Retrospective"
2006, Tokyo, Ueno Royal Museum, “Dalí Centennial Retrospective”
2007, St. Petersburg, Fl., Salvador Dalí Museum, “Dalí and the Spanish Baroque”
2009, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, "Salvador Dalí : Liquid Desire"
2015, St. Petersburg, Salvador Dali Museum, “Dali & da Vinci: Minds, Machines & Masterpieces”

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