Creative Writing On Speak, Memory: Art And The Theme Of Memory

Published: 2021-06-21 23:49:54
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There are many reasons that artists choose to create art, but one of the many reasons that they choose to do so is to encourage the persistence of cultural or personal memories. While not all artists paint, sculpt, or recreate memories from their pasts, many artists do use elements of memory and memories from their past to create works of art that memorialize and speak to the past. This may be a personal history, or it could be a cultural or global history-- many of the works of art created after the first World War, for instance, are concerned with the war and the ways that the war impacted people. In this discussion, the idea of memory will be centered around three different pieces: first, and perhaps the most oblique, is Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory. The second is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, and the third is Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Each of these pieces speaks to the memory of an individual or event, and can be discussed within the social and cultural context of their time.
Salvador Dali’s image The Persistence of Memory is a very famous painting in his extremely well-known surrealist style. The painting is an examination of time, and the manner in which human beings experience time; there are certain images within the painting that are extremely realistic, but the overall effect of the painting is one that is extremely surreal. The melting clocks have become a cultural meme for many western societies; the melting clock is representative of the strange nature of time for humanity. People have a very strange relationship with time, and often find themselves rushing around in the hopes of getting everything done that they need to complete; Dali was examining the relativity of space and time with the idea of the melting pocket watches. During the time when Dali was painting The Persistence of Memory, Albert Einstein was introducing his theories of General and Special Relativity; Dali suggested, when his painting was released for viewing, that the melting of the watches was tied closely to the idea of relativity, since relativity suggests that time is not as cut-and-dry as people had initially thought.
Dali’s work has a number of important features. First, there are the ants that cover the orange clock in the piece. Dali commonly used ants in his work as a way to represent decay or the passage of time to his viewer; the presence of ants on the orange clock represents the way in which memory decays over time. In addition, Dali blends the real—the cliffs in the upper right-hand corner of the piece—with the surreal—the melting clocks—to present a dreamscape to his viewer.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a vastly different type of memorial than Dali’s Persistence of Memory. While Dali was working in the surrealist and personal sphere, Maya Lin was making an attempt to memorialize all the American people who were lost during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall stands in Washington DC, is made of two gabbro walls that are nearly 247 feet long each. The names of all the fallen or missing in Vietnam are carved on these walls, and, interestingly, they are carved in chronological order. While our memories may fade, and our understanding of the events of the Vietnam War may change, the fact that we remember people primarily by the events that formed their lives rather than by alphabetical order gives further meaning to the way Lin chose to create the wall.
The War Memorial was not always popular. In the years after the Vietnam War, when the country was still grieving for its dead, the Vietnam War Memorial was seen by many as being too cold; however, over time, people began to grow more attached to the memorial, and the memory of all of those Americans who lost their lives in Vietnam are etched into the Wall for as long as it stands.
The final piece of art that will be discussed in depth is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. Guernica is, in fact, a place; it was the site of one of the many bombing raids by the Germans and the Italians during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso was traumatized by the realities of the horror at Guernica, and, after the incident, felt compelled to paint. Unlike many of his other pieces, Guernica is in black and white; it lacks color, and shows instead the death and destruction that can be wrought by war.
Guernica shows the suffering of the people and animals in the town of Guernica, a town which did little to help or hinder the war effort during the Civil War. Picasso was distraught by the realities of war; animals and people alike lay dead or dying in the image. The fractured imagery is reminiscent of the disaster and pain that would come with a bombing raid; the animals look as though their bodies are breaking to pieces. Every person or animal in the image has a look of terror and pain on their faces. This is a very different type of war memorial when compared to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial; it is much more personal and tinged with fear and sadness.

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