RENÉ MAGRITTE, La coquetterie, photomaton self portrait
Jardin des Plantes, Paris, 1928 © ADAGP, Paris, 2005
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Press release and images on the web site with password.
Who doesn’t know the painter with the bowler hat, and the pipe which is not a pipe? After so many exhibitions celebrating Magritte as a painter, this is the very first one to focus on a relatively unknown, but nonetheless important and highly original part of his activity, photography. While offering an alternative view of his life and art, this exhibition confirms - if need be - Magritte’s work within a modernity which is as relevant as it is irreverent.
Magritte plays Magritte
This exhibition features around 350 prints, most of them not previously shown to the public. Magritte’s family, his artistic training and his meeting Georgette, with whom he was to form an inseparable couple and who always remained his favourite model. Holidays on the Belgian coast, friends like Scutenaire, Nougé, Mesens, whose antics recall the extent to which Belgian Surrealism was first and foremost a group affair. Moving to Paris and La tentative de l’impossible . Returning to Brussels, an intense period of creation, and photographs from the 1930s to 1955, in which Magritte develops a sense of the extraordinary and the irreverent that differs from that of his paintings - not to mention his breaking away from French Surrealism. Time passes, waistlines thicken and international success finally arrives. Now a character from one of his own canvases, Magritte plays his own self , dark-suited and bowler-hatted, for a procession of photographers from Belgium and abroad.
A dream journey
Many of the photos on display are original and fairly small “contact prints”, the same size as the negative. Most of them belonged to Georgette and René Magritte, who kept them their whole lives, which lends them a special emotional value. The lighting suggests a dream journey - slightly unreal - through an unexpected world. The exhibition walls vary in colour and are based on the ones Magritte himself painted for his home in Laeken’s rue Esseghem. The display of photos is articulated around a number of enlargements. A brief but enlightening text introduces each sequence telling the story of his life, from The tender secrets of childhood to Duane Michals’ complete series:A Visit with Magritte through Conquering Paris or the suburbs of success...
Surrealism not dead. Stop...
The exhibition is interspersed with text commentaries, recordings of Magritte’s own voice set against the musical background of Eric Satie, whose piano pieces Georgette loved to play. Surrealism not dead... Magnifying glasses hang next to the photographs, so that visitors can travel through the images at their leisure. All photographs taken by Magritte have separate lighting and are framed in different colours. The exhibition’s attractions include the showing of five original films produced for the occasion, showing the transition from still to moving image, black and white to colour, photograph to painting. Nine comic films by René Magritte produced in the 1950s and featuring his closest friends - Irène Hamoir, Scutenaire and Lecomte- are shown simultaneously, while a hitherto unseen holiday film shot by the painter is projected at the entrance to the exhibition by way of introduction.
This Exhibition, realized in collaboration with the Fondation René Magritte, will be presented in Paris in 2006 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Exhibition Catalogue, Dutch - French, under the direction of its curator Patrick Roegiers, ill. col.,168 pages, BOZAR BOOKS by Fonds Merator and Palais des Beaux-Arts, ISBN 90-5544-543-6 25,00 €