MoMA
René Magritte. The False Mirror. Le Perreux-sur-Marne, 1928
René Magritte

The False Mirror

Le Perreux-sur-Marne, 1928
On view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
21 1/4 x 31 7/8" (54 x 80.9 cm)
Credit
Purchase
Object number
133.1936
Copyright
© 2015 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Le Faux Miroir presents an enormous lashless eye with a luminous cloud-swept blue sky filling the iris and an opaque, dead-black disc for a pupil. The allusive title, provided by the Belgian Surrealist writer Paul Nougé, seems to insinuate limits to the authority of optical vision: a mirror provides a mechanical reflection, but the eye is selective and subjective. Magritte’s single eye functions on multiple enigmatic levels: the viewer both looks through it, as through a window, and is looked at by it, thus seeing and being seen simultaneously. The Surrealist photographer Man Ray, who owned the work from 1933 to 1936, recognized this compelling duality when he memorably described Le Faux Miroir as a painting that “sees as much as it itself is seen.”

Gallery label from Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938, September 28, 2013–January 12, 2014
Additional text

Le Faux Miroir presents an enormous lashless eye with a luminous cloud-swept blue sky filling the iris and an opaque, dead-black disc for a pupil. The allusive title, provided by the Belgian Surrealist writer

Paul Nougé, seems to insinuate limits to the authority of optical vision: a mirror provides a mechanical reflection, but the eye is selective and subjective. Magritte's single eye functions on multiple enigmatic

levels: the viewer both looks through it, as through a window, and is looked at by it, thus seeing and being seen simultaneously. The Surrealist photographer Man Ray, who owned the work from 1933 to 1936, recognized this compelling duality when he memorably described Le Faux Miroir as a painting that "sees as much as it itself is seen."

Gallery label from 2015
Provenance information
The artist, Brussels. 1928 - 1930
E. L. T. (Edouard Léon Théodore) Mesens (1903-1971), Brussels. Purchased from Magritte, June 1930 - 1933
Man Ray. Acquired from Mesens, 1933 - 1936
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Man Ray in 1936

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource