While Surrealists such as Man Ray and Raoul Ubac made photography an essential part of their work, Belgian Surrealist René Magritte (1898–1967) remained committed to painting throughout his long career. Magritte’s careful, meticulous handling of form only makes his scenes more dreamlike; he once described painting as “the art of putting colors side by side in such a way that their real aspect is effaced.” But painting and photography were not mutually exclusive for him, and photography actually formed an important part of his oeuvre. Magritte built up a large photo and film archive throughout his life, although it was only discovered in the 1970s, more than 10 years after his death. Revealing a lesser-known side of the Surrealist master, these photographs give us access to an informal Magritte, from his childhood to the last years of his life.
In René Magritte: The Revealing Image, a book published by Ludion, a comprehensive catalog of Magritte’s photography and film, we see Magritte with his parents and brothers, as a newly married man with his wife Georgette and with his contemporaries in the Brussels Surrealist group. Spontaneous snapshots are complemented by posed scenes, including improvised tableaus with his fellow artists, parodies of famous movies, portraits of Magritte at his easel and staged photographs that served as models for his paintings. Fans of Magritte’s iconic paintings will find much to discover here; images where the artist and his friends hide their faces or turn away from the camera particularly resonate with his investigation of the “hidden visible.”
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