Monday, May 24, 2010

Surrealism and Rene Magritte (with Nina Simone's "Sinnerman")

“If the dream is a translation of waking life, waking life is
also a translation of the dream.”


Rene Magritte (1897-1967) is my favorite of the artists who are placed in the category of Surrealists.

I admire how much he uses absurdity and humor in so many of these paintings presented here. Also the way he plays with space and imagery (like the huge rocks that appear in many of his most famous works) and the bizarre men and women who inhabit his netherworld of fantasy--a world that gives us arresting insight into our own way of seeing the world around us. A painting of a pipe that tells us, in cursive writing below, "This is not a pipe." Or a view out a living room window that is blocked by a painting of the identical landscape you'd expect to see outside.

Nature can be duplicated and its still great art (potentially) , but Magritte wants to remind us of our perceptions and the power of understanding (and not understanding) how our brains process the life around us.

This separates his work, and the work of so many other great 20th Century painters, from the old task of the painter's art to duplicate nature and its creatures and humans in the exact detail of visual simplicity.

There is a bit of an impishness to his work, but also a touch of the macabre.

The music here is Nina Simone's classic "Sinnerman".


  1. Thanks so much, Magritte is my bridge between Maxfield Parish and Dali

  2. Loved the video montage and the paintings. Are you sure about the music. It sounded like Nina Simone's Sinnerman.

  3. Wow, that is one heck of an interesting bridge of great art Darlene.

  4. Oh, dang! You are right Fred. Well done sir.

    This goes to show what happens when I trust the guy on You Tube who posted this one. I wondered why it was called 'Four Women", but did I check that out properly ? Nawwww.

    Glad you like the montage. Magritte always had an interesting mind for images didn't he?

  5. Slightly warped would be a better description

  6. lol Yes, Fred, perhaps he was hitting the mescaline stuff a little hard, who knows?

  7. Excellent choice of artist if I may say so Doug....I love Magritte too, but there were quite a few pictures in that clip I'd never seen before. They truly are amazing works of art. I like surrealism and have visited Dali's own Museum/Theatre in Figueres, Catalonia a couple of times, as well as exhibitions of his work in various places. But Magritte less so, I don't know where most of those pictures are and I suppose I'll have to do some research to find that out....they are more fundamentally Freudian than Dali I think. Thanks for this timely reminder to explore Magritte's work more diligently, your post has certainly whetted my appetite again after years of neglect, cheers Doug.

  8. Thanks.

    Definately more Freudian than Dali I think, AA. I remember your posting some photographs from the Dali Museum and being quite impressed by what has been created there.

    Sometimes an artist--writer, filmmaker, painter, just sort of grabs at you with the way he or she looks and remodifies the world. So it is for me with Magritte. His work rather reminds me of Hitchcock's view of sex and the human condition for some reason, but I'm not sure Sir Alfie ever spoke of this to an interviewer.

    I'm glad to pique your interest here since you have dome me that favor many times over the months in your blogs, AA...cheer right back at you!