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La Noblesse du temps by Salvador Dalí in Andorra

the noblesse du temps Dali's sculpture in Andorra

La Noblesse du temps or nobility of time, is a sculpture made by the Catalan artist Salvador Dalí and although it was ceded to the Andorran principality in 1999, it was not until August 2010 that this monument was installed in its current location, in the Plaza de la Rotonda of Andorra la Vella.

location map Dali's Clock in Andorra la Vella

The work itself is dated between 1977 and 1982, so although similarities can be found between his most important pictorial works and this series of sculptures, we must not forget that most of his known paintings are from an earlier period.

How did he get to Andorra?

This sculpture belonged to Enric Sabater, a friend and confidante of the Catalan artist between 1968 and 1982. The sculpture passed through several museums before the owner decided that the work had to be exhibited in Andorra. Indeed, it was the owner of the work who had the initiative to give this sculpture to the Andorran authorities so that people could appreciate Dalí's art, since he himself was a collector specializing in the artist.

Dalí, a very famous painter, but what else?

Dalí is an artist clearly marked by the school of surrealism, a school that was born in the field of literature and which preaches above all a great freedom of the artist in his work. In it, the unconscious is sought to go beyond the reality that would be its raw material, but never the final result. In this way, the artist tries to go beyond the apparent and logical, to give a new meaning to the most mundane objects.

Salvador Dalí is probably the most recognized exponent of this artistic period, since his rather wild work together with his extravagant personality made him an icon even among his contemporaries. He himself said that "the difference between me and the surrealists is that I am surrealism".

The interpretation of the work

Before starting any reading of a surrealist work, we must take into account that the real dimension and the unconscious dimension are intertwined to form a whole, which also influences the overall meaning of the piece.

One of the characteristic elements of Dalí's creation are the clocks and the passage of time they represent, which are usually called soft clocks.

The artist's most well-known work with this theme is The Persistence of Memory, an oil on canvas that defines his surrealist style and which is currently kept in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, although it was created in the artist's homeland in Spain

This concrete painting has many symbolic elements that we can also find in the sculpture of Andorra, despite having been created during a later period.

The first similarity we can find in both creations is the presence of a dry tree. This tree has been related in the pictorial field as a representation of Thanatos, the god of death in Greek mythology. Therefore, the link between death and temporality is very present in these examples.

The trunk also symbolizes time as a memory of the past, since it preserves its roots, but it does so by mixing with the stone that serves as a support. So we can observe a contrast between life and death that is accentuated by the lack of vitality of the tree in question. Could it be because time inevitably rests on the trunk, so it is a reminder of human decadence?

In the real dimension, the crown of the clock can be seen as the component that allows you to regulate the time, so it would be the human who would have control over the object, but in the dream dimension the crown symbolizes the royalty that places time as an entity superior to humanity and from which it cannot escape.

The clock itself also has a double reading, on the one hand, it melts and molds itself to the tree, but it is also synonymous with movement and is a structuring force of the elements of the sculpture. This also reminds us of Plato's myth of the winged chariot, in which he explains the duality of the human condition that is debated between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Some human beings would still retain their wings, so they could ascend to the divine, but others would have lost them, so they would be condemned to the earthly plate eternally.

This interpretation is especially interesting if we take into account the two figures that accompany the clock.

On the right side we can see an angel in a reflective position, and on the left side a woman with a shawl.

The pose of the angel reminds us of Auguste Rodin's iconic work The Thinker and as it is, it would represent humanity's eternal concern for the passage of time and the obsession to recover lost time.

Angel sculpture in the Dalí Clock in Andorra la Vella

On the other side, we can see a woman wrapped in a shawl looking up at the sky. Both its position and the shawl give it movement and a feeling of lightness. His gaze goes further to recognize the power of the unconscious, the only one that is really capable of conserving the memories of time. Through the dream dimension, the woman and the angel lose their carnal identity and acquire new meanings.

In fact, both represent in the dream world the opposite of what they would represent in earthly reality, and what they would have to represent in the aforementioned myth of the winged chariot. The angel represents the human condition condemned to suffer through the passage of time and the woman represents the fascination with the dreamlike dimension that gives a new meaning to reality and frees the soul from earthly concerns.

Sculpture of a woman on the Dalí Clock in Andorra la Vella

Although we must not forget that every work of art is subject to the interpretation of the viewer and, as Dalí himself said, "What matters is to sow confusion, not eliminate it".

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