los-angeles

“Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images”

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Suzi Gablik, author of a key English-language study of René Magritte, noted that the Belgian master was a “son of boredom.” Possessed of “an almost constitutional dislike of painting, . . . he makes use of objects which have the appearance of paintings.” Instead of exploring his boredom, his tender antipathy, the curators of this show—in which the artist’s oeuvre is juxtaposed with a variety of contemporary selections—have opted instead to reify his commercial popularity, allowing the sweet smell of success to waft as the omnipresent odor of the lowest common denominator.

The price of admission to the show is steep, a not unsalient com- mercial fact about an exhibition whose crass installation, spearheaded by Michael Govan, curated by Stephanie Barron, and designed by John Baldessari, requires museum guards to wear bowler hats. Capitalizing on Magritte’s sign of the artist-as-everyman/businessman,

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