PRINT May 1974

The Imagism of Magritte

THE RECENT EXHIBITION OF BELGIAN Symbolists and Surrealists at The New York Cultural Center furnished an opportunity to consider the specifically visual imagery of René Magritte as well as the literary aspect of his art. The Prisoner, 1926, is remarkably abstract, even Arplike, in its gently molten forms. At the other extreme, The Menaced Assassin, from the same year, is fully pictorial and consistently narrative. The Menaced Assassin even suggests Hitchcock as an exercise in guilt and paranoia; by now it is unnecessary to spell out why Magritte’s evocation of that oppressive frame of mind is more worthwhile than Dali’s prosaic trivializations of paranoid states.

Two paintings between these narrative and nonobjective extremes carry us further along: The Alphabet of Revelations, 1935, and The Liberator, 1947. Both are more typical of Magritte in their intertwining of pictorial normalcy with

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.