Tuesday 22 June 2010
This is not a pipe – the art of Rene Magritte
All art should inspire thought though it seems to me that surrealism goes that step further: surrealism is about thinking. In particular I love the way in which surrealist painters take commonplace objects and reinterpret them in an unusual, sometimes in an unsettling and vaguely sinister way.
I have in mind the paintings of the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte, my favourite from the school, who takes the most banal subjects, reproducing them in an almost deadpan way, and then adds a penetrating visual joke. One of my favourites is his Ceci n'est pas une pipe- This is not a pipe- which happens to be a straightforward depiction of, well, a pipe! In one version, just to emphasise the point, he has smoke curling up and on to the picture’s frame.
He is quite right, of course - it’s not a pipe; it’s a painting! Next time, even when you are looking at the most conventional art, do remember that what you are seeing is not a thing but a vision, a single interpretation of a thing.