Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938

Magritte title graphic

Introduction to Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938

Narrator: Welcome to Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926 to 1938. In 1926, the young Belgian painter René Magritte discovered Surrealism, a new international artistic and literary movement, led by the French writer André Breton.

Curator, Anne Umland: Breton's goal was to overthrow what he saw as the oppressive rationalism of modern bourgeois society. And he encouraged his followers to achieve this goal by accessing the surrealism, the superior reality of the subconscious. I think it's very fair to say that René Magritte was one of the artists who answered Breton's call.

The show looks at the key strategies Magritte used to de-familiarize the familiar, to make the ordinary extraordinary, to render the everyday strange.

Narrator: By the time he turned 40 in 1938, Magritte was internationally recognized as one of Surrealism's most important artists.

Anne Umland: There is no question that this 13-year period, for Magritte, was foundational. It was his most productive period ever. And he would return to works and methods and subjects from this moment for the rest of his long career.

Narrator: This exhibition was co-organized with curators Stephanie D'Alessandro at the Art Institute of Chicago and Josef Helfenstein of the Menil Collection in Houston. You'll hear from them as well as some of MoMA's conservators on your tour today.

MoMA Audio+ is sponsored by Bloomberg.

3 / 18