Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938

Edited by Anne Umland, with additional contributions by Stephanie D'Alessandro, Michel Draguet and Claude Goormans, and Josef Helfenstein with Clare Elliott
9 1/4 × 11 3/4 inches
256 pages

Published 2013


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This publication focuses on the breakthrough Surrealist years of René Magritte (1898–1967), creator of some of the 20th century’s most extraordinary images. Bringing nearly 80 paintings, collages, and objects together with a selection of photographs, periodicals, and early commercial work, it offers fresh insight into Magritte’s identity as a modern artist and one of Surrealism’s preeminent painters. Beginning in 1926, when the artist first aimed to create paintings that would, in his words, “challenge the real world,” and concluding in 1938—a historically and biographically significant moment just before the outbreak of World War II—the authors trace central strategies and themes from this formative period, particularly those of displacement, isolation, transformation, metamorphosis, the “misnaming” of objects, and the representation of visions seen in half-waking states.

About the Authors
Anne Umland is a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her curatorial projects there have included Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914 (2011) and Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927–1937 (2008).

Stephanie D'Alessandro is a curator of modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. She recently curated Picasso and Chicago (2013) and authored the catalogue.

Josef Helfenstein is the director of the Menil Collection. He has published extensively on modern and contemporary European and American art.

Clare Elliott is assistant curator at the Menil Collection. She was the curator of Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible (2013) and authored the accompanying publication.

Michel Draguet is director general of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, which includes the Magritte Museum.

Claude Goormans is a research associate at the Magritte Archives, Brussels, and assistant at the Université libre de Bruxelles.