So, what did I learn in school today? I never realized that the great Surrealist Rene Magritte ( 1898-1967) was Belgian and not French. He was born in Brussels and later moved to Paris for three years to be closer to the Surrealist movement. The current exhibit of his paintings at MOMA, “The Mystery of the Ordinary” is quite extraordinary. The works at this show were all done between approximately 1927 and 1937, obviously a very prolific decade for Magritte. Because so much of his art is preoccupied with bodily fragmentation and displacement, it’s fun to ponder. “Les Muscles Celestes” (Muscles of the Sky-1927) is a scene I’d like to see: Clouds melting from the sky and landing on wooden decking. “Black Magic” depicts a nude (possibly Madame Magritte who often modeled for the artist) with a white dove on her shoulder. But the sky blue intermingled with the flesh tones on the body makes this painting unusually beautiful. The show included the renowned and as well as lesser known paintings. A group of schoolchildren was sitting in front of “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” as a docent conducted a discussion. I love Magritte’s own explanation of this work: “It is symbolic of a pipe, but you can’t smoke it, so, ceci n’est pas une pipe.”
His combinations of incongruous images are mind-boggling to me and I was absolutely mesmerized by his giant masterpiece, “On the Threshold of Liberty” (1937.) It is so three-dimensional that it’s as if you are being drawn into a huge, adjoining room. I had to laugh at “The False Mirror,” the famous painting of the eye filled with clouds because it reminded me of my own eye before the cataract surgery. The exhibit is really fun for fans of fine art and Surrealism. You can catch it until January 12, 2014.