Monday, April 11, 2011

For the Love of Magritte...

Our emotional relationship to elements and objects is a theme I think about often in my own work.

The Curse II (Malediction II) 1960

Claude Spaak commissioned Magritte to do the frist version of this painting, a simple but mystical painting of the sky. In 1951 Magritte used this a the basis for one of his murals that he painted on the ceiling at the Theatre Royal des Galeries Saint-Hubert adding only faint images of blue grelots (bells) to the sky.

The Tomb of the Wrestlers (Le Tombeau des Luteurs) 1960

This big rose painting is called The Tomb of the Wrestlers and was a commission by Magritte's lawyer and patron Harry Torczyner. "When there is a rose, and one is sensitive to it, one makes it as big as I did so that the rose appears to fill the room," he explains. The title, which Magritte took from a novel by French Symbolist writer Leon-Alinien Cladel, "Ompdrailles, le tombeau des luteurs" (1979), seems appropriate: like the rose, the fighters are something "grandiose," filling the tomb with their struggles.

Sixteenth of September (Le Seize Septembre) 1956, 23.6 x 19.7 in. / 60 x 50 cm

Trees are a recurrent subject in his work. As Magritte stated: "Growing from the earth to the sun, a tree is an image of certain happiness. To perceive this image we must be immobile like the tree. When we are moving, it is the tree which becomes the spectator. It is witness, equally, in the shape of chairs, tables and doors, to the more or less agitated spectacle of our life. The tree, having become a coffin, disappears into the earth. And when it is transformed into fire, it vanishes into air."

Sheherazade 1950

One of first of many Sheherazade themes Magritte painted. Magritte probably based his ideas on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade." From Poe, "Her name was Scheherazade, and her idea was, that she would either redeem the land from the depopulating tax upon its beauty, or perish, after the approved fashion of all heroines, in the attempt."

Poe's tale is based on the legendary Persian queen, Scheherazade, the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights.

Perspective I: Madame Récamier by David (1951, 60x80cm) is the first "coffin" painting. During the late 1940s and early 1950s Magritte made a series of "Perspective" paintings based on well-known works by the French artists François Gérard, Jacques Louis David, and Édouard Manet, in which he substituted coffins for the figures represented in the original paintings. The composition of this work is almost identical to that of David's famous portrait of Madame Récamier, except that the seductive young sitter has been replaced by a coffin, with a cascading gown left as the only trace of her previous existence. Executed in Magritte's carefully detailed style, this irreverent rendition of the Neoclassical masterpiece is suffused with mordant wit.

Inspired by Clouds and Bells (Nuages et grelots) 1951
I made Sea Foam Bloom

A woman surrounded by the Magritte palette, listening for Magritte's bells.. a love, an idea, a sign?