All entries for Thursday 24 August 2006

August 24, 2006

Salvador Dali's melted clocks

Dali

Last week I visited the Dali Universe on London’s South Bank. I was keen to go and see Picasso’s works, but, once there I was drawn primarily to Dali’s surreal sculptures. I was especially fascinated by the repetition of the image of the melted clock and watch and have since been contemplating what it reveals about the nature of time. For me, the sculpture entitled Profile of Time (pictured above) suggests a perception of time that is fluid and malleable, and the position of the watch on the tree signifies time’s fragility and its dependence on the natural world. The caption that accompanies the sculpture states that as the watch melts over the tree, it transforms into a human profile, underlining the relationship between humans and time. This straightforward elucidation made me wonder how far, especially in exhibitions of surrealist art; explanations of artefacts actually limit rather than increase the interpretive possibilities of the viewer? In spite of my reservations about such clear–cut interpretations, I found most of the information the exhibition gives, which contextualises the paintings and sculptures, incredibly useful in coming to a deeper understanding of the work on display. It was especially helpful, for instance, to be prompted to consider Dali’s work in the context of early psychoanalysis and the emerging fields of psychology.


Rossetti's 'Chelsea years': An article by Angela Leighton

Writing about web page http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25336-2315620,00.html

I came accross this interesting article on the TLS website. I was particually fascinated to read Angela Leighton's analysis of the word–play in operation in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's letters which he wrote around the time of the exhumation of Lizzie Siddal's grave. I was also struck by her discussion of the way in which his 'Willowwood' sonnets converse with the work of his sister and Lizzie Siddal.

Willow–land, Leighton argues, is a 'place full of echoes in the Rossetti family, as if it drew on some shared mythology even beyond the facts of life.' In some sense, she claims, 'its “wandering” thing is the ghost–presence of Lizzie Siddal – a presence that Christina imaginatively “inhabits” in her numerous poems about dead women.'
After linking Siddal with the numerous poems Christina Rossetti writes about dead women, Leighton concludes her article by suggesting that an understanding of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s art is to be found, not in his letters at all…

but in the writings of the poet who, even more than he, understood the morbid, freakish ways of the imagination: his sister Christina. It was she who, as early as 1850, wrote a short story in which she rattled her own oddly premonitory skeleton in the closet. In “Maude”, she describes how, on the death of the girl poet of the title, a manuscript of her verse is buried with her in the coffin. As a figure for where poetry comes from – a figure ransacked, in different ways, by both brother and sister – this one is perhaps as good and secret as any.

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