Le Jockey Perdu (The Lost Jockey) (1925)
This is Magritte's first major work. Magritte considered The Lost Jockey his first "'realized'" painting, since it was the first in which he played with a poetic idea. Magritte painted The Lost Jockey after seeing de Chirico's The Song of Love , which demonstrated, according to Magritte, "the ascendancy of poetry over painting." In this painting, a jockey is situated in the middle of a forest composed of trees looking like giant balustrades. Here, Magritte juxtaposes the immobility of the trees with the fleeting motion of the horse and rider. In classic Magritte manner, common objects are disoriented. Balustrades, normally used to support stair rails, appear in exaggerated proportions as tree trunks. Max Ernst coined the word "phallustrade" in describing Magritte's handling of the balustrades, which reoccur in many of Magritte's other works. Magritte skips back and forth from the real to the unreal, from the conscious to the unconscious.L'Assassin Menac (The Threatened Assassin) (1926)
Magritte painted this piece while in the Parisian Surrealism scene. In this painting, two men in bowler hats, one holding a human limb as a club and the other holding a net, wait outside a room. In the room, a man listens to a record while a bleeding, nude female lies on a bed. Three men observe the scene from the outside. Here, Magritte explores space and perspective by playing with the foreground and background. Some critics liken this painting to an episode of Louis Feuillade's Fantmas, the evil genius of crime whom the Surrealists adopted as their corrupt hero. Fantmas was the sly criminal who never once, in a long lifetime of thirty-two volumes, got caught for any sort of wrongdoing. He turned human values and morality upside-down and always outsmarted the law.La Condition Humaine I (The Human Condition I) (1933)
In this painting, Magritte plays with space frames and the notion of the "inside" versus the "outside." Magritte best describes this piece in his own words: "In front of a window, as seen from the interior of a room, I placed a picture that represented precisely the portion of landscape blotted out by the pictureEFor the spectator it [the tree in the painting] was simultaneously inside the room; in the picture, and outside, in the real landscape, in thought." The contradiction lies in the relation between and treatment of three-dimensional space versus two-dimensional space. Writer Suzi Gablik comments on the piece: "In this single image he has defined the whole complexity of modern art Ea complexity which has led to a devaluation of the imitation of nature as the basic premise of painting." La Dure Poignarde (Time Transfixed) (1939)
In this painting, Magritte depicts a miniature train suspended and coming out of a fireplace. This was one of the rare occasions in which a sudden image, almost a hallucination, appeared to Magritte. Although Magritte's paintings may seem a little psychedelic, Magritte disliked many artists' dependency on visionsL'Empire des Lumires (The Empire of Lights) (1954)
Magritte seemed to divide the world into bipolar halves Enight and day, real and unreal, inside and outside. At the same time, he placed these halves together in a precariously balanced whole. In this painting, he depicts night and day simultaneously, disrupting commonsense conceptions of time. A house is found in complete darkness, except for a bright (perhaps artificial) light. Magritte uses the Surrealist device of the double image, and one cannot tell whether the house should be more lit or plunged into complete darkness. Magritte said of this and other related paintings, "A thought limited to similarities can only contemplate a starry sky with a nocturnal sky. An inspired thought which evoked the mystery of a visible thing can be described by painting: indeed, it consists uniquely of visible things: skies, trees, people, solids, inscriptions, etc."
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