Why Magritte Was Fascinated with Bowler Hats


This article has made me realise I have never written about Magritte, despite having one of his works in my local gallery;

The Flavour of Tears; Image © The Barber Institute of Fine Arts / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

seeing him as part of a surrealist show in Edinburgh;

La Reproduction Interdite (Not to be Reproduced), 1937, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

finding a wonderful work in Peggy Guggenheim’s place in Venice;

Empire of Light, 1953-54, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, 1976

an exhibition in the Pompidou centre

The Lovers, 1928, Museum of Modern Art, New York

and finaĺly, an afternoon in Musee Magritte in Brussels.

Femmes, 1922, Musee Magritte, Brussels

Time to put that right!

Really enjoyed reading this, particularly one point that I think, sums up why Magritte is so interesting:

It is this way that he creates exceptionally clear pictures that have unclear meaning,” says Anne Umland, curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “The bowler hat functions in that way.”

The trip to Brussels brought that point to life. The works are presented in dimly lit rooms, hung on black backgrounds so that when you observe the painting, there are no other distractions. What you see seems so ordinary, yet not!

Sotherby’s, New York has a sale in November in which this work, Le Principe du Plaisir, from 1937 is up for auction with an estimate of US$ 20,000,000!

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Translated at The Pleasure Principle, the ordinary, a suited man seated at at table, combines with the extraordinary. The light source is not external, obscuring the features, but internal and suddenly, we are transported into the realms of the impossible. How can someone have such a force from within? To take the unusual even further, look at the rock at the front of the scene:


It looks like a piece of igneous rock, but why is it there? With no other clues, the familiar but random nature of the object asks more questions than gives answers and all you can do is laugh at how ridiculous it is. As Magritte himself said, “Nothing is confused except the mind.and that is why you can enjoy Magritte and have a giggle at what he puts on the canvas, what he leaves out and what he tries to trick you with!

Edit 13/11/18

The Magritte went for £26m!!!!!