If you thought you knew Magritte, think again. His most famous works have the feeling of being jeux d’esprit, but there’s a vast corpus behind them, and much of it is really quite disturbing.
I think it would be fair to say that this is a book for the serious student and it’s certainly not a quick read, or even something to skim through. Silvano Levy’s thesis is that there was a hidden message behind the whole of Magritte’s work, something he hinted at himself but never explained. He explores this through conversations with the artist’s widow and members of the Belgian Surrealist group. These people are all now ageing, and this is probably one of the last opportunities to do this. Whatever you feel about Levy’s overall work, he has presented a good body of source material that will aid future researchers.
The result is exhaustive and, as I hinted, sometimes exhausting. It is, though, considerably aided by the inclusion of a lot of illustrations, meaning that you can read the analysis and look at the paintings themselves at the same time without having to have recourse to a major gallery and museum tour.
Authoritative and scholarly, this will certainly satisfy serious students of Magritte.
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