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Albertina Opens Rene Magritte Exhibition

The Albertina presents an exhibition highlight with an extensive tribute to René Magritte, one of the most renowned and popular artists of the 20th century, on view 9 November 2011 – 26 February 2012.

Some 250 exhibits from all over the world, including 150 important paintings and works on paper, will cover every creative phase of the Belgian Surrealist’s career. More than 90 lenders have contributed to this great retrospective, thus enabling the Albertina to present every single one of Magritte’s masterpieces. Works such as The Menaced Assassin, The Secret Player, The Gigantic Days, Time Transfixed, The Eternal Evidence, Golconda and The Empire of Light represent Magritte as a main exponent of Surrealism – undoubtedly the most prominent and memorable one next to Dalí. Magritte’s works are not only popular but also have a great intellectual appeal and continue to fascinate present-day viewers due to their enigmatic and mysterious nature.

Magritte was primarily a painter of ideas, an artist of visible thoughts rather than of subject matter. His anti-modernist objectivity, juxtaposed to the avant-garde, may not have enriched art history in terms of form, but did all the more so in terms of motif. In his almost anti-formalist oeuvre he dealt with the material world in a provocative and confusingly open manner. All the objects he painted were clearly recognizable, belonging to the banal, everyday sphere. But when Magritte presented them according to his poetic logic, in an order that cast a completely different light on them and gave them an entirely new power, their meaning began to waver. The recognition of the motifs collided with the mystery of the combination: Magritte brought together things that did not belong together. The artist exposed the viewer’s perception and usual way of seeing as tacit consent and convention, turning the causality of our world view upside down with the depiction of inexplicable metamorphoses, the reversal of the world, the transformation of proportions and surrealistic combinations.

Interior and exterior spaces are connected in a deceptive manner, day and night collide, objects and human bodies merge into one another, and the more distinctly we recognize each object, the more enigmatic the mystery of reality becomes.

Magritte’s paintings draw their generally gloomy atmosphere from the cold and unemotionally staged aesthetics of the depicted subject. Bourgeois orderliness and an ambience of old-fashioned cleanliness turn each space into an eerie crime scene, regardless of whether a murder actually took place or not.

In his extensive oeuvre, comprising paintings, drawings, objects, photographs and short films, Magritte employed a limited number of carefully chosen motifs, reusing them in ever-new combinations to create a complex, surreal world of images. The green apple, the pipe, the man with the bowler hat, the egg, the rock, the curtain, and the sea are some of the elements Magritte repeatedly took up again. They stand for continuity in his creative work and have become the artist’s trademark.

Image: René Magritte Time Transfixed, 1938 Oil on canvas The Art Institute of Chicago © Charly HERSCOVICI Brussels – 2011 © VBK Wien, 2011

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