The 10 Strangest Paintings by René Magritte

The 10 Strangest Paintings by René Magritte

René Magritte (1898–1967) was a Belgian surrealist, with a body of work that interests and fascinates people across the world.

Among his unique works, these are 10 of the Strangest paintings.

René Magritte La trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) Print

1. René Magritte, The Treachery of Images, 1929, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

This artwork is considered to be the epitome of Magritte’s art. The Treachery of Imagesshows us the difference between a word and its meaning.  The sentence has meaning that is both separate and a part of the painting. It leaves the viewer to decide which is more integral to the artist’s meaning. The picture is of a tobacco pipe and the sentence states “This is not a pipe”.

2. René Magritte, The Two Mysteries, 1966, private collection

This is an image that is a continuation and a re-imagining of the previous picture. It’s a kind of commentary to the Treachery of Images where the artist is still toying with the audience.Even though the second pipe is not the painting of the pipe – it is still a painting of a pipe.

3. René Magritte, The Lovers II, 1928, Museum of Modern Art, New York

This painting continues one of Magritte’s common themes, that of frustrated desires.  In this painting a barrier of fabric prevents the two lovers from having an intimate embrace, and thus changing an act of passion into one of isolation and frustration.

René Magritte, La Clairvoyance

4. René Magritte, La Clairvoyance, 1936, Art Institute of Chicago

Here Magritte paints a self portrait of himself while he is painting his perception of the future. The artist is painting both the egg in front of him on his table and also the future of the egg, the bird flying fully fledged.. Hence the name of this painting: Clairvoyance.

5. René Magritte, The Memory, 1944, private collection

Here we see the artists interpretation of Memory, with a wound on her head. Is she losing her memories? Will she remember again if the wound is bandaged and the blood flow stopped? Will the act of remembering something stop the blood flow and allow the wound to heal? There are so many more questions with this painting that answers.

6. René Magritte, The Palace of Curtains, III, 1928, Museum of Modern Art, New York

The word in the painting here is French for sky. So we have two identically shaped panels: together, these components demonstrate another of Magritte’scomplex relationships between words and images, Painted windows and painted skies, and the question, does the label make it a sky?

René Magritte, The Listening Room

7. René Magritte, The Listening Room, 1952, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

This is the painting of an apple completely filling a room, and the intricacies of scale and perspective as seen by the artist and the viewer. Which is correct? The scale of the apple or the scale of the room? If it is the room, then what is the function of a grotesquely sized apple? Or a miniature room? And how does an apple listen?

8. René Magritte, Hegel’s Holiday, 1958, private collection

Here Magritte associates two objects with opposite functions – the umbrella protecting from, and the glass containing water.   The painting is titled Hegel’s holiday, after Hegel the German philosopher, and the painting is showing a philosopher’s holiday as a suspension of disbelief, the glass containing water on top of the umbrella repelling the water.

9. René Magritte, Perspective II, Manet’s Balcony, 1950, Museum of Fine Arts Gent

This work is based on ‘Le Balcon’, a canvas by Edouard Manet. Instead of the conventional human subjects of Manet’s painting, there are 4 coffins arranged on the balcony, one of which is drawn as a seated coffin.  Magritte continued this coffin theme in two other paintings

The False Mirror Magritte Canvas Print

10. René Magritte Le Faux miroir, 1935, MOMA.

This painting by Magritte depicts a human eye framing a cloudy, blue sky. In the depiction of the eye in the painting, the clouds take the place normally occupied by the iris. It poses the question of what is real and what is subjectively in the eye of the beholder?

Magritte made a huge contribution to the field of Surrealism. His works are important, and well curated. They are highly prized by collectors and galleries around the world. A recent sale of his Le Principe Du Plaisir reached almost $27 million US Dollars at Sotheby’s.

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