(Reuters) - A Paris exhibition of Belgian artist Rene Magritte’s works hopes to explore the surrealist painter’s interest in philosophy and how he translated it into his art.
“Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images (La Trahison des Images)” at Centre Georges Pompidou museum in Paris, opened on Wednesday and features more than 100 paintings, drawings and documents by the artist, who died in 1967 at age 68.
The exhibition, which runs through January 2017, features one of Magritte’s most famous paintings, 1929’s “The Treachery of Images,” which features an image of a tobacco pipe with the words “This is not a pipe” underneath it, undermining the connection between words and objects.
“Philosophical tradition, obviously, always rejected or had contempt for images because images belong to a sensual universe, and words belong to an intellectual universe,” Didier Ottinger, curator at the Centre Pompidou, told Reuters.
The painter’s dialogue with philosophers such as Michel Foucault focused heavily on the relationship between words and images.
“Magritte wanted to cross swords, meaning to engage in a theoretical combat with the philosophers, to prove to them that images can express thoughts in the same way that words can,” Ottinger said.
Aside from words juxtaposed with images, certain objects recur in Magritte’s body of work - the candle or fire, the shadow, the silhouette, the body in pieces. He used such imagery, normally seen as representations of desire, to question art’s capacity to render reality.
One room is dedicated to the recurrent theme of curtains and trompe l‘oeil (illusions). In 1960’s “Memories of a Saint,” an enclosed curtain’s other side is a sky.
In his 1938 self-portrait “Clairvoyance,” a painter looks at an egg as a model, but draws a bird on the canvas.
In “Hegel’s Holiday,” a painting of a glass of water balanced atop an umbrella, Magritte pays tribute to German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s concept of dualism - of mind and nature, subject and object.
Alejandra Rossetti, a visitor from New York, said she was drawn to Magritte’s exploration of what is real and unreal.
“It’s the power of dreams, and the way that words are almost more important than the image itself and the mix of the words with the image, and the phenomenal imagery that he recreates,” Rossetti said.
Reporting by Reuters TV in Paris; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Peter Cooney