La mémoire de la femme-enfant (The Memory of the Woman-Child)

Salvador Dalí

Figueras, Girona, Spain, 1904 - 1989
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Oil and collage on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    140 x 81 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • Salvador Dalí Bequest, 1990

Salvador Dalí’s fascination with the putrefact came from the time when he used to frequent the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, in the company of by Federico García Lorca, Luis Buñuel and Pepín Bello. It seems to have been Bello who created one of the motifs that Dalí used in so many of his Surrealist paintings, the rotting donkey. It would not have been a particularly unusual discovery, if one considers that at the time it was not uncommon to come across the disagreeable sight of dead and decomposing animals in the ravines around the outskirts of Madrid.
But putrefaction (for Dalí, perhaps, the symbol of moral death, of the obsolescence of current social values) is not only present in the motif of the decomposing donkey. In fact, it applies to any kind of matter, whether organic or inorganic, particularly in works done in 1929 and 1930. It is present, for example, in La mémoire de la femme-enfant (Memory of the Child-Woman, 1929), where the decomposition of the beings and the objects means everything merges together into an unrecognisable morass.

Paloma Esteban Leal