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Rene Magritte and the Paradox of Representation

  • Journal of History of Modern Art
  • 2001, (11), pp.7-25
  • Publisher : 현대미술사학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Art > Arts in general > Art History
  • Received : May 31, 2001
  • Accepted : April 30, 2001
  • Published : May 31, 2001

Jung, Hun-Yee 1

1한성대학교

ABSTRACT

The Position of Magritte in the modernist art history is very ambiguous. If the 20th Century art contributed art history by way of stylistic innovation, Magritte' works always remained in the 'old fashioned' space of illusionistic rendering. Mod­ernist art overthrew the ideal of painting as window, rejected any status as a 'medium', and finally arrived at the point where art becomes the thing in itself. Perhaps Magritte walked the same road, but his method was not reductional. This study mainly deals with the ideas of 'inside' and 'outside' in Magritte's Paintings. The idea of 'inside' and 'outside' corresponds with the concept of 'words and image', of 'mind and world', and of 'reality and representation'. What is crucial in this dual system is his conviction that canvas should lie in between these two opposites. For Magritte, the purpose of painting is not merely to describe the visible, but to evoke what is invisible within that visible. For him, the differences between images and language were not merely stylistic matters. Magritte concerned not only with the perceptual field but also with the linguistic area of representations as such. The most demonstrative example is his <This is not a pipe> series. Here, Magritte let us pay attention to the rupture between the vision and language. There is the strong interaction of picture and text which reciprocally deny each other, and finally point at the paradox of representation as such. Andre Breton, who was a leader of the surrealist movement, said that the goal of surrealism is the synthesis of perception and representation. The representa­ tlve aesthetic of surrealism, the concept of Convulsive Beauty is something that happens contiguously without any preparation or expectation. There lies the para­ dox that how a sign, any kind of sign could be both sign and object, a reality constituted as sign, an absence transformed into presence. Magritte says that there is no 따timate signification not only in painting, but also in any representation as such. Because we never know what mind is, what mind know, what mind know when it knows something. For Magritte, painting is a kind of hole, blind area where the inside and the outside, the container and the contained, style and content, words and image merge into a new reality, the experience of which is always convulsive.

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