ART THROUGH RENÉ MAGRITTE’S MIND
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
This is an article “Art Through René Magritte’s Mind” by Marc Primo Warren
Through his thought-provoking images and witty imagery, Belgian artist René Magritte was able to captivate the art world through his surrealist masterpieces such as “The Lovers”, “The False Mirror”, and “The Treachery of Images”, among many others. Thanks to his background in commercial advertising and his clever musings over everyday objects, Magritte rose to prominence as a true icon of the pop art culture movement during his time and beyond.
Magritte’s influence can be traced from his interests in films, novels, and painting. Of course the tragedy that he experienced during his early years was always the main anchor. From moving to another country at an early age due to his family’s financial difficulties, to experiencing his mother’s suicide by drowning herself in a river, the artist immersed himself on nurturing his impressionist painting skills, later on shifting away from the then upcoming styles such as cubism, and into more abstract techniques.
Why is Magritte’s work important? Here are a few good insights on how we can appreciate the artist’s dreamlike art and the meaning behind them.
The Glass Key
Taking everyday objects and turning them into surreal visual elements is what’s very much eye-catching in Magritte’s works. Somehow offering impossible and sublime pictures to the naked eye earns our merit and appreciation given his signature sharp details.
“The Glass Key” seemingly allows us to experience the defiance of gravity as depicted by the boulder only to discover that it defies our eyes as well. Magritte clarified his work by revealing that the subject is set atop a mountain to present his idea of what we might think as a familiar visual into something that is incomprehensible after all.
However, “The Glass Key” is far from being devoid of meaning. Magritte considers the art work as one of his best as he was able to get his inspiration working and create a form of illusion into something that seems basic to the naked eye, which perfectly sets the line between reality and imagination.
One Magritte piece that sets itself apart from the artist’s other works is “Personal Values”-- an image of a comb sitting on a neatly made bed, a soap, wineglass, match stick, pen laid over two spread carpets, and a shaving brush sitting precariously on top of a closet that are all inside a room with cloudy blue skies as wallpaper. Many consider the work to be a place of dreams regardless of how absurd the imagery is visualized.
The details that stand out, however, are Magritte’s brush stroke techniques giving life to every detail of the household items that connote our general view of the world while reminding us that nothing can really be taken for granted.
The False Mirror
Another Magritte masterpiece that has imprinted its mark in the art world is “The False Mirror” which features an oversized eye with its sclera painted as a cloudy blue sky (we can see a recurring theme in his works here), and an imposing black dot as the pupil at the center.
The deadpan nature of the artwork highlights the uniqueness of Magritte’s style of creating absurdity out of what’s familiar and displaying an illusion that tickles our perception of reality. As the title suggests (which was given by Magritte’s close friend Belgian poet Paul Nougé), “The False Mirror” reflects the possibilities of the ordinary and how we should recognize the oddities of the world in different eyes.
Magritte’s legacy in the art world remains a huge influence to modern artists as it teaches us to take somewhat lifeless subjects to create something strange and captivating. His art gave meaning to familiar things in a way that it's both basic and cerebral. Perhaps, the greatest take away from Magritte is how free experimentation in art can breed new styles and forms that can offer something refreshing for the evolving pop art movement.