In my youth, I didn’t really gravitate to artists of the canvas, with a couple of exceptions. As the zeitgeist in the early 70s was the tail end of the psychedelic age, surrealism was all around. I was drawn to it because of its complete freedom of expression, and the brilliant imagination of its artists. While the obvious and most popular representative of the style was Salvador Dali, the one that grabbed my attention and holds it to this day was Rene Magritte.
He is quoted as saying, “The mind loves the unknown, it loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.” Certainly this “unknowness” was a prime component of my fascination when I encountered his work in a book simply called “Magritte” by Suzi Gablik. I don’t recall how I came across the book, but as soon as I opened it and started perusing the paintings I was hooked.
The first one that showed me I was looking at the work of a unique genius was The Human Condition. That an artist would paint a painting that was an exact replica of the view from a window, making the painting irrelevant while being the centre of attention for the piece grabbed my attention and never let go.
Many of Magritte’s paintings are strange to the point of being disturbing. This one, called The Red Model is a case in point. What kind of mind envisions something like this?
So much more can be said about the man and his genius. There have been several books written that examine his work. I would encourage you to get almost any of them and peruse the man’s body of work. I found him intriguing, beguiling, disturbing and always fascinating. I composed some music inspired by his work and will feature some of it in my music section. If imaginative views interest you, I think you will feast on the buffet that Rene Magritte.
Here are some links to books at various prices. There are more, but these are excellent. Also, search your local library.
Magritte: Attempting the Impossible -Art historian Siegfried Gohr examines Magritte’s marriage and friendships, the phases of his work (from his sunlit Renoir period and his “période vache” to his bright and visually arresting postwar work, which had such an influence on the advertising industry), the Belgian roots of his wit and sensibility and his word paintings and investigations into the paradoxes of representation.
Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938 -Published in conjunction with a major exhibition organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in collaboration with The Menil Collection, Houston, and The Art Institute of Chicago, Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938 focuses on the breakthrough Surrealist years of René Magritte, creator of some of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary images
Magritte (Basic Art Series 2.0) -This introductory book explores Magritte’s vast repertoire of visual humour, paradox, and surprise which to this day makes us look and look again, not only at the painting but at our sense of self and the world.