The Moon and René Magritte


The Belgium painter René Magritte (1898–1967) was next to Salvador Dalí, one of the most influential painters of surrealism. This denotes a style in art (and in other areas), which has tried to use dreamlike, fantastical and absurd elements as techniques of expression for a new superior reality, since the 1920s.

Magritte began to draw and to paint at a young age, worked as a poster and advertisement designer and found his passion for surrealism with his move to Paris in 1927. He frequently depicted objects in a naturalistic painting style, but in an unusual context or he exchanged the proportions. Further, he quite often appended his paintings with an enigmatic title and gave it an extra dimension.


His painting »La Voix du Sang« (Blood will tell) from 1947, shows an oversized foliage tree in front of a nightly landscape, its stem is depicted like a cupboard with two open doors. Below you can see a house with lit up windows, above that is a white sphere. You can envision the full moon in this sphere, which appears to be waning, because of the light coming from the top left. Magritte commented about the painting: »It was a new vision through which the spectator might recognize his own isolation and hear the silence of the world«.


Also the painting »Le chef d’œuvre ou les mystères de l’horizon« (The masterpiece or the mysteries of the horizon) from 1955, depicts the Moon as a threefold crescent above the heads of three men, dressed in black with black bowler hats.


The painting »Le seize septembre« (The sixteenth of September) from 1956 is interesting as well, as it also shows a slim waxing moon crescent, centered in front of a tree. If you presume that it depicts the Moon of 16th September 1956, you would be wrong, indeed, because the Moon looked much fuller on that night (four days later it was the full moon).

Other paintings from these years, which also show the crescent are »Les profondeurs du plaisir« and »Le Cicérone II«.

Magritte created a lot of this magical atmosphere that the moonlight transports, too. Magic happens there, where we leave the boundaries of every-day life behind and begin to perceive reality differently.

Portrait of René Magritte: Lothar Wolleh

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