Narrator: In early 1930, at the very end of his years in Paris, Magritte made what he called toiles découpées, or cut-up paintings, mounted on glass.
Director of the Menil Collection, Josef Helfenstein: He transfers the painting into precarious territory, because it's not clear anymore whether this is a painting or an object. There's something almost brutal about this nude, and I think that's part of what makes it such a radical work. The painting itself is a result of a violent act in terms of creation, because the idealized nude of traditional painting, has been cut up in small parts.
Narrator: These cropped, close-up views are evocative of photography.
Josef Helfenstein: It's an ongoing tension in Magritte's work between the traditional role of painting and mechanical reproduction. And photography plays a very important role in that discourse the role of photography, the role of mechanical reproduction, and the threat to painting, is part of what Magritte was interested in.