René Magritte: “Elective Affinities” | MÁS LITERATURA


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René Magritte is well known for being one of the most important artists of surrealism. Also, he is remembered for his tragic life as a teenager, because his mother committed suicide when he was only 13 years old. There are certain beliefs that his works made between 1927 and 1928 reflect the pain and suffering that Magritte felt for losing the maternal figure, paintings such as The Invention of Life, The Heart of the Matter or The Menaced Assassin, show women with faces covered, with worried eyes or simply lifeless female figures.

Another subject for which Magritte is remembered is for the critic of the abstract idiom. This means, the words that exits into the language do not correspond to a specific image, because as humans we have created the images as we think those things are, despite we don't know the real name of the nature of those things. Therefore, his famous oeuvre The Treachery of Images has become relevant in the academic world and in everyday life, due to the critic of the abstract idiom, and we can observe it when we read in the painting “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, and confirm that the image of a pipe is not a pipe, because is only an image that represents the idea we have of a pipe.

However, René Magritte's work goes further than just these topics, because he was the main artist to make elective affinities visible in 20th century art.

According to Magritte, the elective affinities were born when he woke up one morning and suddenly imagined that his wife Georgette's canary had turned into an egg inside the cage.

We are familiar with the image of a bird in a cage; interest is heightened if we replace the bird with a fish or a shoe; but while these images may be intriguing, they are unfortunately accidental, arbitrary. It is possible to find a new image that resists investigation through its exact and definitive character: that is the image that shows an egg in a cage.

René Magritte

Although this may not seem important or meaningful, by modifying basic elements within a work without going into chance, it allows giving more power to the image. Thus, the canary is hidden within the work to give the viewer more elements to imagine the double prison of the bird before its birth, which is both the egg and the cage.

Similarly, since there are elective affinities such as the case of the egg in the cage, it is possible to interpret what is happening in the present and what may happen in the future. For example, the bird before becoming a living being, is already inside a prison, which is the shell, but this situation can still become somewhat pessimistic, the future of the egg is to become a canary inside a cage.

Based on this, it can be thought that, in this Magritte's work, the artist follows both a surrealist and an existentialist path.

However, the above does not only happen in the work Elective Affinities, but also in many others, such as La Clairvoyance, where a painter captures the possibility of a bird on the canvas; o Return, a painting that allows us to imagine the future of the birds that are still in the nest.

Therefore, with the elective affinities, René Magritte breaks with the random schemes of the surrealists, since he proposes a game with the other to investigate the logical possibilities of a work.

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