PRINT March 1979

Magritte’s Inaccessible Woman

IN HIS APPEARANCE AND life style, René Magritte chose to resemble a typical petit bourgeois domiciled in a quiet suburb of Brussels. He was devoted to his wife, whom he married when young and from whom he was never parted. He walked a small dog and was a chess enthusiast. He also limited himself to a small circle of close friends. But much in Magritte’s painting belies his uneventful, aloof existence. The anxiety or frustration evidenced in such works as Femme introuvable (The Unattainable Woman), 1927, or L’Histoire centrale (The Heart of the Matter), 1927–28, calls for the understanding of an underlying drama, however much the artist himself always insisted that no sentiments (or symbolism) were to be read into his work. The former painting depicts hands searching blindly but avidly along a wall in a fruitless attempt to reach a nude woman “attached” to the wall, in full view of the

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