Monday, March 26, 2012

Magritte museum

All the museums in Brussels are located beside each other, around the Mont des Arts. Whether that's by design or accident, I don't know, but it's very handy. We got ourselves a combo ticket that allowed us access to the fine arts museum (modern and ancient) and the Magritte museum.

For those of you who didn't know, Magritte was Belgian. Along with Jacques Brel, Eddy Merckx and Adolphe Sax in a long line of famous Belgians!

The first thing I'll say about Magritte paintings is "don't look at the titles" - they have no connection whatsoever with the picture on the canvas. He was a surrealist after all. And I'm not sure I get surrealism. A painting of a pipe that says "this is not a pipe"; well, yeah, this is a painting of a pipe. It's not an actual pipe. But what else is it? Still, Magritte's paintings are interesting. I love his skies, all flat and smooth and with a perfect colour gradation, or pure happy blue with puffy clouds. One thing that struck me is that he painted really flat, no texture, no obvious layers, just a really fine, flat, coat of paint. Apparently, this is an attempt at focusing the attention to the subject in the painting rather than to the actual painting.

There are many recurring themes in his work: the man in the bowler hat, puffy clouds, the sky bird, the easel, the door, ... I don't really know what they mean, but then the one that really puzzled me was the sphere with a slit. I've read on some websites that it's a cow bell, but I'm not sure about that. It looks really sci-fi, like it's come from another planet!

For a more erudite analysis of Magritte's works, check out this website, from which I took the reproductions  of some of the paintings I like. Not all of these were at the museum, but it would appear that Magritte was quite prolific.

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